Posts tagged with "Border wall"

Trump: Federal workers who are ‘not getting paid’ are Democrats

December 28, 2018

On December 27, President Donald Trump resumed his feud with Democrats on Capitol Hill over $5 billion in funding for a border wall—claiming, according to a report by The Hill, that most of the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who have been furloughed or forced to work without pay due to a partial government shutdown are Democrats.

“Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border. Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking, Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country,” Trump tweeted at 7:06 a.m. “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?” he added.

Why the president made that claim is anybody’s guess, but—since he has not hired replacements for the staff who worked in federal agencies during President Barack Obama’s term—perhaps he believes that those who remain on the payroll are Democrats.

The border wall has been the focal point of government funding negotiations between Capitol Hill and the White House. However, Democrats in both houses remain staunch in their opposition to funding the wall, with Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-California) calling it a “nonstarter.”

In early December, the Democrats pitched Trump $1.3 billion for border “security,” but the president—immediately facing pressure from conservative pundits—declared he would not accept that offer. Then, during a trip to visit U.S. troops in Iraq on December 26, he doubled down, demanding that Democrats pay a $5 billion bottom line that had never been promised.

“Whatever it takes. We need a wall. We need safety for our country. Even from this standpoint. We have terrorists coming in through the southern border,” he told reporters.

In a sign that the two sides are not yet close to reaching a compromise, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s (R-Louisiana) office told The Hill on December 26 that no votes in the House were expected the next day and that members would receive 24 hours’ notice of when they needed to return to Washington, D.C.

Democrats will have significantly more leverage in negotiations come January 3, when the party officially takes control of the House.

Research contact: @talstales

‘Who’s gonna pay for the wall?’

December 13, 2018

The answer to the question above? Apparently, not Mexico—which was what President Donald Trump repeatedly promised during the 2016 campaign. And probably not Congress either.

During a surreal meeting in the Oval Office on December 11, The New York Times reports, President Donald Trump engaged in an argument in front of reporters with two Democratic leaders, Representative Nancy Pelosi (12th District, California) and Senator Chuck Schumer (New York), over the his own threats to shut down the government unless he gets $5 billion to build a border wall.

During what the news outlet characterized as “an extraordinary public airing of hostilities that underscored a new, more confrontational dynamic in Washington,” the president vowed to block full funding for the government if Democrats refused to allocate money for the wall on the southwestern border, saying he was “proud to shut down the government for border security.”

He repeatedly told Pelosi that he “only need[ed] ten Democratic votes in the House” to pass the funding for the wall. In turn, she replied that he didn’t have the votes—and would not have them in the future.

According to the Times report, the two Democratic leaders took issue with the president’s position and his false assertions about the wall—which he claimed was already under construction—in front of a phalanx of news cameras, imploring him repeatedly to continue the tense conversation without reporters present.

However, the news outlet said, “Trump insisted on a conspicuous clash that undercut Republican congressional leaders and his own staff working to avoid a shutdown at all costs, or at least to ensure that Democrats would shoulder the blame for such a result.”

“If we don’t have border security, we’ll shut down the government — this country needs border security,” Mr. Trump declared as the diatribe unfolded, and Schumer reminded the president repeatedly that he had called several times for a shutdown, appearing to goad him into taking responsibility.

 “You want to know something?” an infuriated Trump  finally said. “I’ll tell you what: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.”

“I will take the mantle,” Mr. Trump went on. “I will be the one to shut it down — I’m not going to blame you for it.”

Ultimately, the discussion again raised doubts about whether Trump and the Congress could reach agreement by a December 21 deadline to keep much of the government open, appearing to harden diametrically opposed positions on the wall.

Research contact: @nytimes

Shell game: Administration redirects funds to Mexico to conduct U.S. deportations

September 14, 2018

Build the wall! Build the wall!  That was the rallying cry from Trump’s base throughout his presidential campaign. After which the candidate would lead the chant, “Who’s gonna pay for it? Mexico.”

The times have changed—and the tables have turned. Now, as part of the administration’s campaign to stop illegal immigration, the United States plans instead to pay Mexico.

In a recent notice sent to Congress, the administration said it intended to take $20 million in foreign assistance funds and use it to help Mexico pay plane and bus fare to deport as many as 17,000 people who are in that country illegally, The New York Times reported on September 12.

According to the news outlet, the funding will help the POTUS to increase deportations of Central Americans, many of whom pass through Mexico to get to the American border.

In addition, in an effort to hype the plan to his nationwide base, the president has said that “any unauthorized immigrant in Mexico who is a known or suspected terrorist” will also be deported under the program, according to the notification, although such people are few in number.

Katie Waldman, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, told the Times that the program was intended to help relieve immigration flows at the United States border with Mexico.

“We are working closely with our Mexican counterparts to confront rising border apprehension numbers—specifically, a 38% increase in families this month alone—directly and to ensure that those with legitimate claims have access to appropriate protections,” Waldman said.

A spokesperson for the Mexican Embassy did not immediately respond to the news outlet’s request for comment.

Following the disclosure on September 13 that FEMA funds needed for hurricane recovery had been redirected to ICE for expansion of its detention center program, the plan to redirect foreign assistance funds becomes another example of the ways in which the administration is diverting money to serve its own priorities.

The administration has yet to spend nearly $3 billion in foreign aid, according to the Times—money allocated last year by Congress with broad bipartisan support. Hundreds of millions of dollars meant to help stabilize Syria and support Palestinian schools and hospitals already has been redirected.

The money will be transferred from the State Department to the Department of Homeland Security, and then sent to Mexico.

“Congress intended for this money to lift up communities dealing with crime, corruption and so many other challenges, not to expand this administration’s deportation crusade,” Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Times. “I want answers about why the State Department thinks it can ignore Congress and dump more cash into deportation efforts. Until then, I’ll do whatever I can to stop this.”

Under the program, Mexico would be responsible for detaining and providing judicial review of immigrants before deporting them. The sometimes cumbersome and lengthy legal process in the United States to deport asylum seekers has long frustrated President  Trump, who has often said the laws must be changed to speed deportations. Getting Mexico to do deportations instead would bypass that process.

 “We shouldn’t be paying another country to do our dirty work; we should actually be fixing our immigration system and helping these countries get back on solid footing,” said Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “It smacks of desperation.”

Meanwhile, population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017.

Research contact: @GardinerHarris

Trump: ‘Either build the wall or I’ll shut the government down’

August 1, 2018

On July 30, during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, President Donald Trump reiterated his tweeted threat of the day before to shut down the federal government at the end of September, if Congress does not deliver on Republican demands to crack down on immigration by enforcing security on the border with Mexico and to construct his long-promised wall, The New York Times reported.

“If we don’t get border security after many, many years of talk within the United States, I would have no problem doing a shutdown,” Trump told the media. “We’re the laughingstock of the world.”

Indeed, if the POTUS was concerned about potentially throwing his party into disarray with his threats prior to the midterm elections, he did not show it, the Times said.

However, his comments on immigration did not find a welcome reception on Capitol Hill, where Republicans staring toward November’s elections were quick to distance themselves. The party risks losing control of one or both chambers, and its leaders have made it evident that they see no upside to a chaotic government shutdown in the weeks before voters cast their ballots.

“Obviously up here, we want to keep the government up and functioning,” Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota told the Times. “I’m not sure where the president is coming from.”

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, chalked the comments up to a negotiating technique —however ill-advised it may be.

“He knows the game,” Hatch commented to the news outlet. “But we don’t want to do that again. Nobody wants that.”

Republican leaders in both chambers expect to pass the majority of the 12 appropriations bills necessary to keep the government operating before September 30, the end of the fiscal year. Between those bills and a short-term spending measure to bridge the gap, they believe they can push off any potential fights—including over border wall funding—until after the midterms.

That, at least, was the plan Republican leaders pitched last week to Trump at the White House. They left thinking they had reached a mutual understanding, the Times said.

“I was a little surprised that he brought it back up again,” Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas told the news outlet “But I know it’s really a burr under his saddle.”

survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research back in April found that 58% of Americans oppose new spending for the border wall, while just 28% support it. Along party lines, 86% of Democrats oppose new spending for the wall, as do 57% of Independents.

Research contact: support@apnews.com

90% of Americans support DACA; most oppose border wall

January 19, 2018

Nearly 90% of Americans favor allowing young immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to remain here—a federal policy established under President Barack Obama and known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This is a view that spans partisan lines, based on results of a survey of 1,225 adults nationwide released on January 18 by CBS News. .

However, the sticking point—one that may lead to a government shutdown as soon as tonight—is the demand of President Donald Trump for financing for the wall he campaigned on, which he believes would stop illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico and other Latin American nations.

Americans remain divided over which issue is worth risking a shutdown of the federal government, the CBS poll has found: Democrats support DACA; Republicans support a wall on the southern border:

  • Most Americans continue to oppose building a border wall, however, 70% of Republicans support it—and 51% of GOP supporters think it worth risking a government shutdown to get it.
  • More than half of Democrats (57%) say it’s worth shutting down the government to have young illegal immigrants stay in-country.

If the wall is ultimately built, 85% of Americans (including majorities across party lines) think that the United States would foot the bill; not Mexico. Most Democrats and Independents are bothered by the possibility of the United States. paying for the wall, but Republicans, two-thirds of whom favor the wall, are not.

On a related issue, CBS News reports, 75% of Americans find the remarks President Trump reportedly made about immigration from Haiti and African countries unacceptable for a President to make, but fewer, 52%, say they are personally bothered by them. Seventy-two percent of Republicans say they are not personally bothered.

Asked which criteria the U.S. should use to admit immigrants, slightly more Americans (47%) prefer that priority be given to people based on their education, job skills, and work experience than people with family members already living here (39%).

Research contact: @Fred Backus