tags: , , , , AVEF, Press Releases

As Evidence of Border Failures Mount, Trump Again Raids Military Funding for Border Wall Construction

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Last week, we highlighted how the latest DHS monthly numbers offered stark reminders how Trump’s border policies had dramatically worsened the humanitarian and refugee crisis. We also noted that Trump’s refusal to adjust course or admit that more deterrence-only approaches are doomed-to-fail and will make the current situation all the worse.

Today, we see more reminders of both storylines – continued examples of the consequences of Trump’s failed approach and more evidence that the Trump administration will keep pushing costly deterrence-only policies in response that are completely mismatched to the nature of the humanitarian and refugee crisis. In this case, Trump is again set to raid the U.S. military budget in order to advance his stupid border wall. See below for a quote from America’s Voice Deputy Director Pili Tobar and evidence of failures:

Detention facilities dramatically overcrowded and children’s lives affected: Due to overcrowded detention facilities, ICE is using aircraft to move detainees away from border-area detention facilities; erecting multiple tent cities in South Texas; and struggling to house near record-high numbers of children in federal custody. But the most powerful reminder of the humanitarian and refugee crisis remains the human stories of those caught up. Read Manny Fernandez in the New York Times on the plight of 7-year old “Jose,” and his eight months in custody as he tried to reunite with his family.

Prioritizing the wall over military Trump budgets and Afghanistan: Trump’s failure to understand the nature of this crisis – a refugee crisis caused by violence in Central America and a humanitarian crisis at the border caused by Trump’s cruel, chaotic and failed strategy – has led the administration to make a difficult situation worse, and they refuse to adjust course towards a saner and more realistic policy. Now, they’re again seeking to raid military budgets to pay for stupid deterrence-only policy ideas, such as building out more of the border wall. As the New York Times writes, the Pentagon is now seeking to shift an additional $1.5 billion in funding from Afghanistan war-related and military construction projects. In response, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Jack Reed (D-RI), stated, “We are dismayed that the department has chosen to prioritize a political campaign promise over the disaster relief needs of our service members.”

Keep in mind, this is on top of the Trump administration’s earlier raiding of military budgets in order to fund the wall. As Foreign Policy wrote in February, “President Donald Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency will divert $3.6 billion earmarked for U.S. military construction projects—possibly hospitals and infrastructure improvements—to fund a portion of his long-promised wall along the southern border, a move that experts say is an affront to military families.”

With immigration court backlogs at all-time highs, Trump administration’s emergency spending request includes not a dime for immigration judges or immigration courts. Rather than stealing from the Pentagon budget to try and build a border wall, a saner administration would recognize that immigration court funding and personnel should be a priority. Yet while the Trump administration’s recent emergency spending request includes $1.6 billion in DHS-related funding to address the crisis Trump created and made worse, only $10 million is for actual humanitarian response and not a dime is for judges or ways to fairly, accurately and efficiently adjudicate asylum claims at a time when the backlog is at a record high (find a related DHS Watch analysis here). Now, more than 80 House Democrats have signed onto a new letter asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an investigation into the backlog under Trump, writing that they are “alarmed” that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “is adjudicating cases at an increasingly slow pace compared to previous years.”

According to Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “The Trump approach to the humanitarian and refugee crisis along our border is to ramp up cruelty and punishment in order to feed their need for campaign talking points and bolster Trump’s strongman image. But their policy failures, the costs and the consequences of their purposeful ineptitude are adding up. Instead of raiding the Pentagon budget, taking money from military readiness in hotspots like Afghanistan and taking away support to military families at home to fund more of the stupid border wall, we need a fundamentally different strategy that actually acknowledges the situation in Central America and the root causes, and takes seriously the fact that deterrence-only policies won’t work; we need a regional approach with an orderly and fair process to adjudicate cases. Until Congress steps in to assert a new strategy, expect the monthly arrival numbers to stay high and the Trump administration to keep pushing punitive deterrence only strategies that won’t work, all while they blame everyone but themselves and the costs of the cruelty and failures keep adding up.”

For more on what a “sane administration” would do at the moment, read this recent America’s Voice assessment here.