Rep. Roybal-Allard Leads House Effort to Remove Border Wall Funding from Minibus
Today, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) led an effort in the House of Representatives to remove $1.6 billion in border wall funding from H.R. 3219, the Fiscal Year 2018 GOP So-Called ‘Security Minibus’ Appropriations Bill. Congresswoman Roybal-Allard introduced a Motion to Recommit in support of stripping the border wall funding from the bill. She delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of her motion.
Mr. Speaker, this is the final amendment to the bill, which will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. If adopted, the bill would immediately proceed to final passage as amended.
In last year’s election, no campaign rhetoric was more infamous than the President’s promise to, and I quote, “build a great, great wall on our southern border” and “make Mexico pay for it.” The reality is the funding would come from U.S. taxpayers, not from Mexico as the president promised.
This motion to recommit strikes the $1.6 billion appropriation for construction of merely 74 miles of border wall.
Beyond the initial 74 miles, we have no idea of how many miles of border wall the President plans to build – or how much it will cost –- because we have not received the required report on the long-term plan and justification for border security investments. Even with the plan, we will need time to evaluate whether investments in the border wall are more cost-effective than alternatives, and more urgent than clearly established unmet needs.
With $1.6 billion, we could buy two of the four heavy Coast Guard breakers we need to protect U.S. interests in the Arctic, but in this bill there is no funding for essential icebreakers. There is no acquisition funding for them in the Homeland Security bill.
The $1.6 billion could also be used for investments in additional scanning technology and the hiring of thousands of Customs officers at every US port of entry. This would reduce wait times for travelers, better facilitate the flow of commerce, and contribute to economic growth in many of our districts. It would also enhance our ability to intercept contraband and illegal narcotics mostly smuggled directly into the U.S. through our ports of entry, not where the wall would be built.
The bill before us does not adequately address these and other areas of security vulnerabilities.
As members of Congress, protecting our nation and the American public is our greatest responsibility. It is our obligation to act in their best interests and to invest their tax dollars wisely. If the only Homeland Security item in this bill remains the funding for 74 miles of border wall, we will fail to meet our obligation.
Unfortunately, the President’s border wall is now a proxy for the broader immigration debate.
There is a false and misleading assumption that building a border wall will solve the immigration challenges we face.
The reality is we will never be able to fix our broken immigration system with an enforcement-only approach that turns a blind eye to the desperate circumstances that compel so many to make the often deadly journey to the U.S.
We will never be able to address our immigration challenges by treating as criminals the millions of undocumented people in this country, many of whom are our neighbors and friends. For years or even decades, the vast majority have called the U.S. their home. They have paid their taxes, acted responsibly, contributed to their communities, and worked hard to provide opportunity for their family.
Immigration enforcement is as much a moral issue as it is a legal one. Our Statue of Liberty has always been a welcoming symbol of hope for those who, like now, are fleeing poverty, oppression, famine, war, and violence in their home country.
Many of our ancestors came from somewhere else, often with uncertain legal status, and made significant contributions to help our country become the greatest in the world. Today’s immigrants continue to contribute to that noble legacy.
What we truly need is comprehensive immigration reform that protects our homeland and reflects our American values. Democrats stand ready to work with Republicans to achieve that goal. But Democrats will not support the use of taxpayer dollars for an ill-conceived border wall that has more to do with a campaign promise than the security of our homeland.
In spite of the president’s assurances, Mexico is not paying for this wall. The American taxpayer is. My motion to recommit would prevent that from happening.
I urge my colleagues to support the motion to recommit.