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Will Trump’s Border Wall Obsession Be a Political Liability?

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After Defense Secretary Esper Receives Bipartisan Criticism Yesterday, Today Landowners Will Decry Desecration and Seizure of Lands

Just because President Trump is obsessed with the political significance of his border wall – often it seems to be the only topic capable of holding his attention – doesn’t make it a politically beneficial subject for Trump’s re-election effort. On the contrary, the border wall and Trump’s related obsessions may end up being a political liability.

Trump’s latest raid of billions of dollars appropriated to support military families and military readiness didn’t go over well with lawmakers of either party yesterday. Politico recapped the House Armed Services Committee yesterday:

Defense Secretary Mark Esper got an earful Wednesday morning from lawmakers over the Pentagon’s move to shift another $3.8 billion toward building a border wall. Esper, testifying alongside Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, faced a barrage of questions from members of both parties of the House Armed Services Committee…

…’Mr. Secretary, obey the law,’ warned Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.). ‘And recognize you’re in for a major brawl with at least a good section of this committee as the president continues to rip off what were apparently necessary funds.’

The panel’s top Republican, Rep. Mac Thornberry (Texas), also opposes the move …  ‘We are about to embark on trying to write a defense authorization bill,’ Thornberry said. ‘My basic question to you is: Is it going to matter? Or will OMB send out a directive saying … we’re going to take away some money for some planes or satellites or something and move it to other things?’

Conservative Rep. Trent Kelly (Miss.), who supports Trump’s designs on a border wall, warned that Pentagon leaders need to ‘be careful’ with reprogramming. ‘I think we risk a whole lot with a $3.8 billion reprogramming to fund a border wall without consulting with Congress,’ Kelly said.

And today in the House Homeland Security Committee, tribal leaders and private landowners from Arizona and Texas will decry the Trump administration’s efforts to use eminent domain to seize their sacred and private lands. 

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Trump’s signature border wall obsession may end up being a political liability, and for good reason. 

Yesterday on Capitol Hill, Trump’s plan to raid even billions more from appropriated military budgets came under heavy, deserved and bipartisan criticism from members of Congress. They protested that the constitutionally dubious move, under cloak of a bogus emergency declaration, is harming military readiness and trampling on the separation of powers. 

Today on Capitol Hill, Trump’s plan to seize border property will be on display, as affected private landowners and tribal leaders will describe how Trump’s land seizures for his pet project will mean the theft of private land that has been in the hands of families for generations and the desecration of lands sacred to Native Americans.

Let’s be real about Trump’s signature political obsession: all he cares about is telling his rally-going base that he ‘built the wall.’ No, Mexico ain’t paying for it. No, it’s not effective. No, it’s not popular. No, it’s not a smart investment of taxpayer dollars. No, it doesn’t reflect our nation’s values or help our reputation in the world. And no, it doesn’t respect the Constitution’s separation of powers, the rights of private landowners, the view and voices of border communities, sacred Native American land, delicate environmental treasures and basic common sense.

As a nation, we need new leadership that will create an immigration system that is humane and workable; that sees immigrants and refugees as a dynamic force that strengthen our communities and nation; that creates a regulated and well-managed system that is fair to all, including newcomers and established residents; that creates a line to get into for undocumented immigrants who are settled in America; and that brings us together to modernize our immigration system as good as our ideals.

For a broader recap on why the wall is a potential political liability, read the recent America’s Voice memo, “5 Key Points About the Border Wall on 1-Year Anniversary of Trump’s National Emergency Declaration”