The number of Arizonans infected with coronavirus continues to grow each day and we continue to lack adequate testing, equipment and supplies across the state to fight the spread of COVID-19. Meanwhile, GOP Senators like Sen. Martha McSally continue to defend Trump’s raiding of military projects for border wall construction amidst a global pandemic. Donald Trump’s request of $18.4 billion for border wall money that could be going to the COVID-19 response, seems to have no objection from Sen. McSally. Right now, massive construction crews who may be risking their own health or the health of Arizona communities are deployed to the border wall project, with the support of Sen. McSally, which is a perfect encapsulation of the misguided priorities of Republicans who are pursuing their election year border agenda – even sending more troops to the border – rather than making sure the federal government is sending ventilators, doctors and masks to American hospitals.
In a must-read op-ed in The Hill newspaper from last week, Gail Emrick, executive director of the Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center in Nogales, reminds us:
The Trump administration has a staggering $18.4 billion border wall budget, most of it diverted from other federal agencies’ programs that are intended to protect national security. Wall construction money should instead be used to save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19.
At the same time, the administration has undermined our capacity to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak through staff and budget cuts. In 2018, the administration disbanded the National Security Council’s pandemic unit, and have also disastrously diminished the Center for Disease Control staffing.
Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, said:
At a time of uncertainty and fear, Arizonans expect their elected officials to do everything they can to protect the people of Arizona and help fight this pandemic. Instead, as the number of coronavirus infections keep growing in Arizona and nationally, Sen. McSally continues to rubber stamp President Trump’s wasteful border wall and troop deployments that have taken billions of dollars from emergency preparedness funds, resources that could be better spent addressing the actual public health crisis we face.
The President’s border obsession and his wall are symbols of waste, fraud, and xenophobia. He sees Arizona as a prop to be used on the national election stage, not as an actual place where people are facing the fight of our lives. The diversion of resources to the wall has created a Trump-McSally healthcare crisis across the country and in Arizona. As the Trump administration remains “wary” about spending $1 billion for desperately needed ventilators in American communities, they want to spend almost twenty times that amount on an unnecessary border wall that won’t protect us from this virus. And the federal government is deploying massive construction projects to border communities at a time when most Americans are rightly taking precautions and sheltering in place.
And where is Sen. McSally? She seems happy to support the President and is relying on working with Trump to mobilize her voters for her reelection, despite the racism perpetuated by this administration and its disregard for the health of Arizonans.
In times of crisis, we all need to come together, but instead Sen. McSally continues to allow the administration to push anti-immigrant rhetoric in order to distract Arizonans from the utter failure of Trump’s response to the crisis. Arizonans deserve better.