Experts Discuss Post-Election Border Militarization and Wall Funding Fight in Congress

SOUTHERN BORDER -- On a press call today, experts from the four southern border states discussed the post-midterm election effects on the upcoming funding fight for Trump’s plan to further militarize border communities with more border wall, border agents, active-duty troops, and immigration detention beds. Congress has until Dec. 7 to fund the Department of Homeland Security for Fiscal Year 2019, and House Speaker Paul Ryan has promised to have a “fight” about it that could lead to a partial government shutdown. In addition, and surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Defense has been willing to reallocate funds to the construction of border walls and the deployment of active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

A House Homeland Security appropriation bill would provide $5 billion in funding for the wall, while a similar Senate version would provide $1.6 billion. Both proposals would represent a colossal waste of taxpayers money. The construction of more border walls is not only ineffective but also damaging to border communities and the environment.

Leading up to the midterm elections, Trump doubled down on his efforts to build his vanity wall by pushing the notion that there is a crisis on the southern border. He has promised to meet  families with children seeking asylum with the barrel of a gun and the politics of hate. He has called on the military and threatened to shut down the southern border in the cynical ploy to stoke fear for political reasons and build his useless wall.

<<Listen to a recording of the call here.>>

Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, issued the following statement:

“Trump thinks the lame-duck session is his last chance for border wall funding, and we expect that he will demand its full funding, by relying on fear-mongering and mischaracterizations of immigrants and border communities. The facts are that the majority of voters don’t want a wall, and that border walls are ineffective and harmful, wasteful and deadly to border communities, our environment, and our wildlife. Our communities are fed up with the decades-long assaults on our rights and quality of life, all in the name of political theatrics. We intend to hold our elected officials accountable. Our hope is that Congress will start valuing the southern border as a place of encounter, opportunity and hope -- not a place of hate, exclusion and out-of-control militarization. No more walls, agents, troops or detention beds are needed.”

Ur Jaddou, director of DHS Watch, said:

“Even with public outcry on family separation, parents and children literally crying for help, and a federal court order ending family separation, this Congress barely conducted any oversight, much less substantive oversight regarding the border wall, CBP accountability, detention, and the recent deployment of the U.S. military to the border. It’s clearly time for a pause on these budget increases so that the new Congress has time to conduct long-overdue oversight. Congress should define how much money an agency spends, not the other way around. We need to bring back accountability, transparency, and good governance to our funding process and to put a check on an administration that has gone unchecked for too long.”

Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego and co-chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition said:

“For decades, the southern border region has borne the brunt of an insatiable political drive to militarize our border with Mexico, a country that is our friend, not our enemy. Our region already has close to 700 miles of border walls, nearly 20,000 border agents, and billions of dollars of border enforcement. The increased militarization of our communities has occurred without agency accountability, without community consultation, and with little data-driven decision making. This has led to tremendous waste, abuse, and corruption, endangering border communities, which are the safest in the nation. Before Congress considers funding more walls and more border enforcement, it must exercise meaningful oversight over DHS and make funding decisions based on reality, not rhetoric. We need policies that revitalize border our communities, not militarize them for political gain.”

Johana Bencomo, director of community organizing of NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé) and co-chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition said:

“Trump’s proposed spending for his vanity wall is a slap in the face to New Mexico communities, many of which lack funding for basic infrastructure, such as paved roads, potable water, even safe and sanitary sewage treatment. New Mexico is also one of most biologically diverse in all of North America, and deserves to be protected, not trampled by a useless and destructive wall. We should be investing in our communities, not walling them off with a costly wall that does nothing to protect the people that live, work, and pray here. Congress has an opportunity -- and a duty -- to use the power of the purse to push forward policies that revitalize, not militarize our region.”

Christina Patiño Houle, network weaver for the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, and steering committee member of the Southern Border Communities Coalition said:

“The construction of Trump’s harmful border wall would have an incredibly negative impact on our the residents of the Rio Grande Valley. The further militarization we have seen in the last few weeks, from the arrival of military troops, and the installation of concertina wire around the border, has lead to an increased amount of terror and fear in our communities. We need meaningful congressional oversight and community consultation, and Congress has an opportunity to do so during this lame duck session.”

Robin Reineke, Executive Director of the Colibrí Center said:

“From 1994 through 1999, the average number of remains brought to the medical examiner's office in Arizona was 14. From the year 2000 through 2017, that average became 174. What happened to cause a more than tenfold increase in deaths on the border? A wall.

Billions of dollars have been invested in border security, spent on Border Patrol agents and drones and walls and surveillance equipment of all kinds, and the reality is that there has not been a significant decrease in overall migration across the southern border that can be clearly attributed to prevention through deterrence type strategies. What the walls have produced are thousands of dead bodies, tens of thousands of families in mourning, and communities which are traumatized and trampled.”

About Southern Border Communities Coalition

The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.

About DHS Watch

DHS Watch was created in 2018 to uphold an immigration system that is competently administered, accountable, and adheres to long-held American values on immigration.  DHS Watch shines a light on policies and administration that fail to adhere to basic principles of good governance. DHS Watch upholds transparency and accountability by exposing serious cases of misconduct and highlighting weak policies, poor infrastructure, scarce resources, and mismanagement of institutions that should ensure accountability.  DHS Watch also highlights policies and actions that undermine basic American values of fairness and common decency while proposing policies grounded in the principles of good governance, transparency, and accountability.



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