Off-the-wall Despot - January 11, 2019 - border_lines

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_It’s never good policy to pay ransom to a perennial hostage-taker, warned SBCC co-chair Andrea Guerrero of Alliance San Diego and SBCC national ally Cristina Jimenez of United We Dream in a joint opinion.

_SBCC steering committee member Mark Adams of Frontera de Cristo in Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Sonora, notes, “If there’s a [border] crisis, it’s a crisis of people fleeing violence and seeking refuge in a country that has historically been a beacon for refugees from throughout the world.”

_Commenting on Trump’s prime-time border wall speech were SBCC steering committee members Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee and Johana Bencomo of Comunidades en Acción y de Fé (CAFé); fact check the speech here and read our response here.

_SBCC steering committee member Joanna Williams of Kino Border Initiative raised red flags about Trump’s plan to force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while they wait for an immigration judge to rule on their case, and the impacts it will have those seeking protection and humanitarian service providers at the border

_SBCC policy advisor Jenny Johnson will be part of a forum convened by the Natural Resources Committee on the “Disastrous Impacts of President Trump’s Border Wall to Communities, the Environment and Wildlife,” Wednesday, January 16, 10 am in the Longworth House Building, room 1324, in Washington D.C.


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_Off-the-wall Despot. The last couple of weeks have been like a really bad telenovela, with a president-turned-despot who is taking everyone hostage and using trumped up fake numbers to get his off-the-wall, vanity border wall. Trump single-handedly shut down the government_and stated loudly on national TV that he would be proud to do so_but then, predictably, turned around and blamed Democrats for not giving him $5 billion for a harmful and ineffective border wall. Then, when it didn’t seem likely he would get it, he irrationally upped his request to $5.7 billion for a wall and funding for 750 Border Patrol agents, 2,000 ICE officers, and 52,000 immigration detention beds (almost 20,000 more than what is currently funded). Then, he careened closer to the madness precipice by making a border visit to McAllen, Texas_one of the safest cities in the nation_and threatening to declare a national emergency so he could steal dinero from the military (which may be illegal) and/or disaster relief funds from victims of wildfires in California and of flooding and hurricanes in Texas and Puerto Rico. Our Rio Grande Valley SBCC partners and allies wouldn’t have it and protested his border visit loudly. Has he earned the moniker DuTrumpderte, PuTrumpin or Musoltrumpini, yet?

_What’s Really Happening at the Border. And it ain’t Trump’s made-up crisis. Check out the reality of our borderlands. To quote one of our favorite parts: The southern border is a place of hope and opportunity—not a place of confrontation, hate, and out-of-control militarization. Trump is manufacturing a crisis in one of the most vibrant regions in our nation to fulfill a campaign promise based on hate and fear. Border communities have already endured 700 miles of walls built in our towns, neighborhoods and even backyards. We know firsthand that there is no national security emergency at the border, only the one that exists in Trump’s mind. Walls and hyper-militarization don’t make us safer, but do hurt the 15 million people who call the southern border region home, endanger wildlife and the environment, and are a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. In short, we don’t need a wall; like possibly the rest of the nation, there are other problems we need to address more urgently.

_Kidnapping federal employees. Trump has just about held everyone hostage for his dumb wall. He held Dreamers, active-duty military and National Guard, Americans, and hundreds of thousands of federal employees. Here is how some federal employees felt about it. Now, he’s threatening victims of natural disasters in California, Texas and Puerto Rico. What kind of fresh hell will he think of next?

_Who, little me? The one person who could have moved Congress to reopen the government, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, ghosted taxpayers, saying he wouldn’t introduce a bill unless he was sure Trump would sign it_but, he doesn’t need him to sign it (if Trump refuses to sign, after 10 days it goes into law; if he vetoes, chances are pretty high the veto could be overridden by Democrats, and Republicans breaking ranks because of the sheer frustration borne from the exploitation of federal workers). The House passed a spending bill and a continuing resolution for DHS to keep the government going and postpone the conversation about the wall, but McConnell blocked it for a vote in the Senate_despite the fact that senators had passed similar spending bills in the last Congress. This is in spite of the fact that recent polling suggests that Republicans up for re-election in 2020_including McConnell_will not get the support of voters if they continue to support the government shutdown for wall funding. The majority of voters do not want a border wall, nor a shutdown, and all nine border congressional members oppose the border wall. Smell the coffee already?

_Death of children in CBP custody. There is no stronger example of CBP’s inability to care for children in their custody as last December’s tragic and unfortunate deaths of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, 7, and Felipe Gomez Alonso, 8. Our most sincerest condolences go to the families of these children along with our commitment to hold CBP officials accountable and to press for timely medical assessments and care to prevent further deaths. A country is most sincerely judged by how it treats its most vulnerable.  

_What can you do to help? First, take a big breath, then contact your senators and tell them to put a stop to this madness and open the government. Tell them you don’t want a border wall. Do not enable the games of a tyrant. People need to get paid so they can buy groceries, pay rent, make car payments, and meet the other financial obligations. A manufactured border crisis and corresponding false solution should not be used against federal staff members who  serve Americans. Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t get your next paycheck because a dictatorial, misinformed person used it to extort you into giving them a harmful and unnecessary tradeoff. #NoMoreBorderWall


border_lines is published every Friday for your reading pleasure. If you’d like to submit an item for inclusion, please email Vicki B. Gaubeca at [email protected], by Wednesday COB.

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