People Power, Resolute Democrats On Verge of Defeating President Trump’s Budget Request for Border Wall and Deportation Force
Last week, another Trump promise crumbled with the crash and burn of the health care bill in the House of Representatives. The keys to victory: people power, Democratic unity and Republican divisions. Looking forward, it looks like Trump is about to suffer another crushing defeat, this time on his supplemental spending request to expand the number of deportation agents, the amount of detention space and his border wall.
Republicans: Border wall “not a smart investment”
A new AP wire story notes that “Senate Republicans are considering backing away from a showdown with Democrats over whether to fund Trump’s request for immediate funding to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.” While House Republicans may end up voting in favor of the Trump supplemental budget request, that is likely to be no more than a show vote. That’s because Senate Republicans are making it clear they will not shut down the government to fund Trump’s immigration agenda.
For example, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), a key member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, yesterday said the House and Senate were making progress on a must-pass spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and noted, “that comes together better without the supplemental,” saying, “They will not pass together.” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “The border wall is probably not a smart investment.” And even Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), a weathervane who blows with the political winds of his party on immigration, said, “There’s not going to be a shutdown,” noting that there has yet to be a “good faith discussion about what border security is really composed of.”
Dems and advocates: Reject Trump’s funding request
The keys, once again, are people power, Democratic unity and Republican divisions. Activists from across the country have made it a priority to defeat increased funding for breaking up and locking up families. For example, 400 immigration, refugee, faith, labor, civil liberties, victim services, conservation, environmental, educational and legal services organizations implored Congressional leadership to reject Trump, arguing: “The Administration’s supplemental funding request amounts to a down payment on the unpopular and un-American policies outlined in President Trump’s Executive Orders, policies that are cruel, needlessly expensive and will make us all less safe.”
In addition, the idea of cutting middle class and national security program to pay for Trump’s radical immigration agenda is unpopular. As the AP story highlights, “President Donald Trump is proposing immediate budget cuts of $18 billion from programs like medical research, infrastructure and community grants so U.S. taxpayers, not Mexico, can cover the down payment on the border wall” (see this recent Quinnipiac poll outlining broad opposition to the spending cuts proposed to fund Trump’s immigration extremism).
Meanwhile, Democrats have been resolute and united in opposition:
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), threw down the gauntlet when he said, “The administration is asking the American taxpayer to cover the cost of a wall — unneeded, ineffective, absurdly expensive — that Mexico was supposed to pay for, and he is cutting programs vital to the middle class to get that done.”
- Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, stated, “Cutting cancer research, slashing affordable housing and programs to protect the environment, and making middle-class taxpayers pay for a wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for? These may be the Trump administration priorities, but they aren’t the priorities of the American people.”
- Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security committee, highlighted the exorbitant costs that would be borne by American taxpayers to fund the unneeded border wall, sending a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) yesterday asking whether Trump’s border wall with Mexico would actually cost a whopping $70 billion, based on per-mile estimates from DHS.
- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) pressed Senators and spoke out forcefully, calling on their colleagues to reject Trump’s supplemental request. As CHC Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham stated, Congress should “not be complicit in paying for policies that threaten public safety, tear families apart, undermine national security, and devastate our economy.”
Polling shows support for immigrants, opposition to wall
This spending debate occurs in a public opinion context in which there is overwhelming and durable public support for legalizing, not deporting, undocumented immigrants. Recent CNN polling finds that 90% of Americans, including 87% of Republicans, back an earned path to citizenship and that by a 71%-27% margin, Americans oppose the notion that the government seek to “deport all people currently living in the U.S. illegally. Similarly, recent polls from Quinnipiac,Pew Research, New York Times/CBS, Washington Post/ABC News, CNN, Gallup, and even Fox News each found that between 72% and 88% of Americans back either citizenship or legalization for undocumented immigrants over deportation.
Moreover, Americans are strongly opposed to building a border wall with Mexico, don’t believe President Trump’s boasts that he will make Mexico pay for the wall, and don’t think the wall should be a priority of the Trump Administration. A March Quinnipiac poll finds 64-35% opposition to the border wall; a February CNN poll finds 60-38% opposition; a February Pew Research poll finds 62%-35% opposition and notes that 70% think the U.S. would have to pay for the wall (just 16% of Americans think Mexico would pay for it); a January CBS News poll finds 59-37% opposition to the wall and that 79% think that American taxpayers would have to foot the bill for the wall; and a Fox News poll found that just 3% of registered voters think that Trump’s top priority should be building a wall.
Frank Sharry: “Another devastating defeat” for Trump
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
Under pressure from an activated public and resolute Democrats in Congress, Senate Republicans are preparing the ground to reject the Trump supplemental budget request and deal another devastating defeat to their President. The space available to the white nationalists in the White House continues to get smaller. Defeating Trump on this issue would be yet another victory for those of us who believe in the American idea that our nation is at its best when we welcome immigrants and refugees and treat those who live in our communities with respect.