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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Congressional Tri-Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus Urge Republican Leadership to Oppose Border Wall Funding

Congressional Tri-Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus Urge Republican Leadership to Oppose Border Wall Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Chairs of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) opposing additional Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Homeland Security funding for a border wall. The letter was led by CPC Co-Chair Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and signed by CAPAC Chair Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CHC Chair-Elect Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), CBC Chair Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02), and CPC Co-Chair Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02).

“This Congress has already spent close to $2 billion on border-barrier construction despite the fact that the southwest border is more secure than ever. According to a September 2017 DHS report, ‘available data indicate that the southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.’ DHS must provide us with concrete data showing the need and efficacy for such a wall,” the Members wrote.

The Members continued: “Moreover, Congress must take meaningful steps to address the administration’s cruel immigration policies of the past two years: family separation; tear gassing toddlers; illegal denial of asylum-seekers; relentless attacks on immigrant communities of color; and termination of the DACA program and grants of Temporary Protected Status. Polls show consistent national majorities oppose a border wall. Our decision not to fund any more destructive and ineffective border walls would send a values-based and fiscally responsible message to the American people. Our communities deserve better than to be divided and our taxpayers deserve accountability and transparency.”

Read the full letter below:


The Honorable Paul Ryan                                          The Honorable Rodney P. Frelinghuysen
Speaker                                                                       Chairman
U.S. House of Representatives                                  U.S. House Committee on Appropriations
H-232, The Capitol                                                     H-305, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515                                           Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan and Chairman Frelinghuysen:

We urge you to oppose border wall funding in the Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget. This Congress has already spent close to $2 billion on border-barrier construction despite the fact that the southwest border is more secure than ever. According to a September 2017 DHS report, “available data indicate that the southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.”[i]  DHS must provide us with concrete data showing the need and efficacy for such a wall. Moreover, Congress must take meaningful steps to address the administration’s cruel immigration policies of the past two years: family separation; tear gassing toddlers; illegal denial of asylum-seekers; relentless attacks on immigrant communities of color; and termination of the DACA program and grants of Temporary Protected Status.

While some may refer to this funding as simply for fencing, the fact is that such “fencing” is simply a “wall,” especially in its real-life effects. Indeed, President Trump recently installed a plaque on such fencing, touting it as his border wall.[ii]

Construction has taken place this year along the southwest border, resulting in irreparable harm to border residents and their surroundings.  Such construction moves quickly, thanks to a complete waiver of federal and other applicable laws and protections, including numerous environmental, Native-American, and other protections.[iii]  Private property is seized by the government, wildlife species are endangered, migrant deaths and flooding soar, and border stakeholders’ voices are ignored throughout.  We should not continue to fund this destruction and needless division.

A wall is a medieval approach to border security.  For example, the vast majority of contraband is smuggled through ports of entry or, particularly in the case of opioids, international mail.[iv]  We must have rational discussions about investing in modernizing ports of entry to improve border security and facilitate trade and travel.

DHS has repeatedly ignored oversight, evading accountability and misusing taxpayer funds. The agency has even failed to provide Congress with a risk-based border security plan—a report mandated in the FY 2018 omnibus to evaluate the billions in funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP).[v] This report, overdue since September 19, 2018, is vital for Congress to obtain the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) evaluation of effectiveness, alternatives, and impacts of border security operations. We cannot be fiscally responsible and appraise the proposed 2019 DHS budget without this report. Indeed, serious past concerns about wall construction raised by GAO have not yet been addressed.[vi]

We urge you to reject all border wall funding in FY 2019.  Money should not go toward any new or expanded border fencing, levee walls, or conversion of existing barriers.  The Senate FY 2019 DHS appropriations bill includes $1.6 billion for wall construction that would wall off nearly all of south Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, despoiling its unique natural gifts and cultural heritage. The House FY 2019 DHS appropriations bill includes a staggering $5 billion for wall construction, which would inflict even more harm.

Polls show consistent national majorities oppose a border wall.[vii] Our decision not to fund any more destructive and ineffective border walls would send a values-based and fiscally responsible message to the American people. Our communities deserve better than to be divided and our taxpayers deserve accountability and transparency.

Sincerely,

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