A recording of the call is available here
Earlier today, experts and activists gathered on a call to discuss pushing the administration to permanently halt the construction of the border wall and shift the funding to save lives during the COVID-19 outbreak. The recent funding for a firm linked to the administration to build 17 miles of the border has put a spotlight on the administration’s xenophobic strategy that will go to extremes to prioritize political survival over the nation’s public health amid a crisis.
As frontline immigrants work tirelessly to combat the ravaging virus overtaking the country, the administration has focused its efforts to dismiss their essential contributions and instead energize its political anti-immigrant base by pushing forward with its border-wall obsession. As Trump diverts taxpayer funds for his wall, he ignores the severity of the pandemic to ensure his long-standing nativist agenda is pursued.
“While thousands of Americans have died under Trump’s watch during the COVID-19 pandemic and he and Mitch McConnell claim there is not enough money to help state and local governments address the crisis, Trump did seem to find enough money to continue constructing his xenophobic wall,” said Rep. Grijalva. “The presence of large construction crews at the border not practicing social distancing or following CDC guidelines threatens to overwhelm border communities that do not have the infrastructure to adequately address a large outbreak of the virus. It’s long overdue for Trump to stop the construction of his corrupt vanity wall.”
Vicki B. Gaubeca, Director, Southern Border Communities Coalition, said “Under this administration, anti-immigrant policies and practices have gotten exponentially worse, and now Trump is using the COVID-19 pandemic to further institutionalize his hateful policies at the border and beyond. What is really behind his proclamation this week declaring immigrants ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States’ is just part of the same, tired tactic of diversion. The real story is that millions of immigrants are risking their lives fighting this pandemic, taking care of the sick, and making sure families across the country have food on their tables. In this time of uncertainty and crisis we need a framework for governing our borders that expands public health and safety, protects human rights, and welcomes all people who live, work or travel to our region.”
“Of the 38 active condemnation cases filed by this administration in Texas, 19 were filed in the last month, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Efrén C. Olivares, Director of the Racial and Economic Justice Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “There were government contractors out today at one of our client’s home attempting to survey her property, in violation of terms required by a federal court, and without wearing face masks, gloves, or any personal protective equipment. This administration is using this public health crisis to build a border wall no one here wants while no one is looking, and they don’t seem to care how much they’re endangering the lives of South Texas residents to do it.”
Fernando Garcia, Executive Director, Border Network for Human Rights, said, “At a time when our country needs to come together to rebuild our economy, this wall is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the President’s approach to the border. Instead of seeking cooperation from us, the border communities, he wants to blame immigrants – the very people who are now helping the nation heal and recover. We think Trump would do well by announcing a permanent halt to the construction of the wall and instead use the money to create infrastructure and health care jobs needed to dig out of this recession.”