President Donald Trump has made it very clear that he believes the only way to truly secure America's southern border is with an enormous physical barrier — which he generally refers to as "the wall" — stretching from one coast to the other. But, rather ironically, there's a video of Trump telling students to climb over a concrete wall, as Trevor Noah revealed on The Daily Show on Wednesday night. In 2004, when the video was shot, Trump didn't seem to believe that a wall really works for someone determined to get past it.
The wall has been a central promise of Trump's since he declared his candidacy in 2015, and now it's at the center of the partial government shutdown. In a speech Trump gave at Wagner College's commencement ceremony in 2004, though, he painted a very different picture of a wall's effectiveness.
“I’ll tell you, to me, the second-most important thing after love what you do is never, ever give up,” Trump told the assembled students. “Don’t give up. Don’t allow it to happen. If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it. Go over it. Go around it. But get to the other side of that wall.”
In introducing the video clip, Noah suggested the immigrants coming to America might have the same attitude that Trump was encouraging the Wagner graduates to adopt.
“If there’s one thing we know, it’s that nothing will stop immigrants from trying to come to America,” Noah said. He continued:
This is a place that people dream of coming to, because people trying to make a better, safer life for their families will do anything to achieve that dream. And I know Donald Trump understands this — because of this video we found from 15 years ago.
The 2004 version of Trump, of course, was in a very different position than the 2019 version. His reality TV series, The Apprentice, started that same year, so his public persona was that of a celebrity businessman, rather than a populist politician.
His politician persona has consistently insisted that a wall is necessary for border security. Most recently, he made that argument in his Tuesday speech from the Oval Office, in which he claimed that the "barrier is absolutely critical to border security." He added, "It’s also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense."
Trump has also repeatedly maintained that he wouldn't sign a spending bill that didn't include funding for the wall, which is why the government has remained in a state of partial shutdown for almost three weeks now. While experts have repeatedly explained that a wall wouldn't fulfill Trump's stated goal of securing the border, the president hasn't backed away from the demand. If he does get his way and a border wall does get built, The Daily Show tweeted about one thing he might want to keep in mind.
"Oh man," read the caption of a tweet that included the clip from Trump's commencement address. "Once Trump gets his wall he better hope no one shows Mexico this old video we found."