Congressional Tri-Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus Urge Members to Re-open the Government Without Trading Immigration Poison Pills for President's Vanity Wall

Jan 24, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) – and the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) sent a letter to House Democrats urging them to re-open the government and not to trade immigration poison pills for the President’s vanity wall. The letter was led by CPC Co-Chair Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and signed by CAPAC Chair Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CBC Chair Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37), CHC Chair Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), and CPC Co-Chair Congressman Mark Pocan (WI-02).

“For 34 days, President Donald Trump has shut down the government and withheld pay to hundreds of thousands of federal workers in order to further his anti-immigrant agenda.” the Members wrote. “As people of color and progressives who represent these directly impacted communities and their families, we must remain firm. We urge you to reject these calls and work with us to end President Trump’s government shutdown.”

The Members continued: “At a time when apprehensions at the border are at near-historic lows, it makes little sense to invest more money on a wall. U.S. Border Patrol’s own data show the total number of people apprehended for coming into the United States without authorization has been steadily falling for almost two decades.[1] Further, President Trump’s claim that we must have a wall to address the flow of illicit drugs is false. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2018 drug threat assessment, heroin and cocaine primarily enter the United States at legal ports of entry via personal vehicle compartments or mixed in with legal commercial goods.[2] Building a wall will not keep these drugs out of our country.”

Read the full letter below:

January 24, 2019

Dear Colleagues:

            For 34 days, President Donald Trump has shut down the government and withheld pay to hundreds of thousands of federal workers in order to further his anti-immigrant agenda. Over the weekend, the President proposed trading temporary extension of protections for Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients —protections that he himself terminated—in exchange for $5.7 billion for his vanity wall and an unprecedented attack on U.S. humanitarian protections. In addition, some groups purporting to speak for immigrant communities have urged Congress to work with the President to trade protections for Dreamers and TPS recipients for $5.7 billion in wall funding.

As people of color and progressives who represent these directly impacted communities and their families, we must remain firm. We urge you to reject these calls and work with us to end President Trump’s government shutdown.

            The U.S.-Mexico border is more secure than ever. According to a September 2017 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, “With respect to border enforcement outputs, available data indicate that the southwest land border is more difficult to illegally cross today than ever before.”[3] Moreover, according to the Trump Administration, the estimated number of undetected unauthorized entries fell 93 percent from 2006 to 2016, the last year of available data.[4] The Federal government has largely met the border security benchmarks set forth in earlier Senate immigration reform bills, including the bipartisan 2006, 2007, and 2010 proposals, including more border enforcement personnel, border fencing surveillance technology, and detention beds.[5]

            Between Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 and 2018, Congress appropriated more than $8.74 billion for border security fencing, technology, and infrastructure and increased annual appropriations for Border Patrol operations by 93 percent, from $2.28 billion to $4.4 billion.[6]  Construction has taken place over the past year along the southwest border, resulting in irreparable harm to border residents and their surroundings.  Such construction moves quickly, thanks to a complete waiver of federal and other applicable laws and protections, including numerous environmental, Native-American, and other protections. The government seizes private property, wildlife species are endangered, migrant deaths and flooding soar, and border stakeholders’ voices are ignored. 

            At a time when apprehensions at the border are at near-historic lows, it makes little sense to invest more money on a wall. U.S. Border Patrol’s own data show the total number of people apprehended for coming into the United States without authorization has been steadily falling for almost two decades.[7] Further, President Trump’s claim that we must have a wall to address the flow of illicit drugs is false. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2018 drug threat assessment, heroin and cocaine primarily enter the United States at legal ports of entry via personal vehicle compartments or mixed in with legal commercial goods.[8] Building a wall will not keep these drugs out of our country.

            Polls show consistent national majorities oppose a border wall.[9] We urge you to join us in remaining steadfast in our commitment to ending this shutdown without providing wasteful wall funding or making concessions that will hurt border communities.

Sincerely,

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.