The following is a joint statement from Erica González, Director of Power 4 Puerto Rico, a coalition of organizations and leaders of the Puerto Rican Diaspora advocating for the Island, and Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigration advocacy organization in Washington.
We applaud the House of Representatives for passing a disaster aid package that will support all disaster-stricken states and U.S. territories, but the fight is not over. President Trump’s latest anti-Latino move is to assert a request for more Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding into the disaster aid package, which risks delaying or derailing critical relief for Puerto Rico and communities trying to recover.
For months, Congress has been at an impasse on disaster aid, leaving communities from Kentucky to Florida to Puerto Rico in the lurch. Trump has thus far held up the legislative process due to his obsession with punishing the Puerto Rican people as part of his strategy to distract from his administration’s botched federal response to Hurricane Maria that left nearly 3,000 people dead in Puerto Rico.
Inserting ‘emergency’ spending for ‘border security’ into a disaster aid bill is Trump’s attempt to disrupt the hurricane relief process and get the Congress mired in the already dysfunctional debate about giving more money to the DHS and continuing to fund ICE and CBP’s misuse of funds, abuses, and overspending. Trump wants to couple disaster aid and DHS spending because he wants to politicize both and play to his base.
We are calling on the Senate to rise above the president’s Hunger Games approach to disaster aid and his cruel and militaristic approach to punishing refugees. Across the board, we will not relent in demanding support for all disaster-stricken areas that is not politicized, delayed, and muddied by Trump’s attacks hateful rhetoric, division, and fear mongering.