While We’re Watching the Trumpcare Train Wreck, Let’s Not Allow Our Dollars to Fund Trump’s Wall and Deportation Machine
THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Jackie Vimo, economic justice policy analyst
July 21, 2017
It has been another eventful week in Washington, DC, under the Trump administration. Congress continues to dominate headlines with its failing efforts to repeal Obamacare and leave millions without health care; threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may put 800,000 youth at risk of deportation; and yesterday the bipartisan Durban-Graham DREAM Act was introduced.
Meanwhile, the battle over the federal budget continues behind the scenes, and it looks like we are about to be hit by a “minibus” next week that would fund President Trump’s $1.6 billion wall and mass deportation machine. Trump needs our tax dollars to pay for his anti-immigrant agenda, and Congress must approve the federal budget. Now it is up to taxpayers to get the word out to their representatives in Congress that they refuse to fund hate and fear at the expense of vital social programs.
Remember when Mexico was going to pay for the border wall? Now Trump wants you as a taxpayer to foot the bill by trading jobs, health care, the environment, and education for his divisive monument to xenophobia at the southern border.
Back in May, Trump released his Fiscal Year 2018 budget, asking Congress to pour $23 billion of your tax dollars into the boots, walls, and detention facilities that make up his out-of-control deportation machine. Trump’s budget pays for this “deportation force” by giving tax cuts to the rich and slashing crucial programs such as Medicaid, Social Security, and education. The House of Representatives has responded with a proposed budget that gives Trump almost all of what he asked for. Last Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ-11), marked up and approved an appropriation bill that funds key elements of President Trump’s proposed immigration budget. Some of the “lowlights” include:
- full funding of $1.6 billion for Trump’s “border wall”
- $185 million to hire additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol officers
- $4.4 billion for detention and removal programs, including funding to expand by more than 4,600 the capacity of detention camps that house children and families
Congress has until the end of September to pass its budget; but with Trump saying that Congress shouldn’t leave for its August recess unless it makes progress on his administration’s agenda, the budget presents an opportunity to sneak in a victory for the white nationalists among his base amidst the ashes of efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
However, with Congress sharply divided and dissent rankling the GOP from within, passing a twelve-bill omnibus budget is no simple task.
Enter the “minibus.” It’s a package of spending bills that Congress wants to push through next week (the last week of July). It includes four bills to fund the Defense Department, military construction and Veterans Affairs, energy and water programs, and the federal government’s legislative branch. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has also stated that the minibus will include $1.6 billion for Trump’s border wall. McCarthy and other members of Congress are hoping that they can drive this minibus through a vote quietly. It’s up to us to block its path.
The proposed Trump budget, the House’s Trump copycat budget, and the “minibus” are all examples of out-of-control spending for unnecessary immigration enforcement that does nothing but tear families apart at the expense of urgently needed programs. With the price of the $185.6 million Trump and Congress are seeking to hire 1,000 additional ICE officers and 606 support staff, we could replace 37,000 lead water pipes, like the ones that poisoned families in Flint, Michigan. Instead of spending $100 million to hire 500 new Border Patrol agents, we could give 12,000 toddlers access to quality early education through Head Start. And $1.6 billion for the construction of Trump’s border wall could provide health care coverage for 1 million uninsured children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We should be funding bridges, not walls.
The time is now to get the word out to our representatives that the minibus must not pass, and neither must any spending bill that cuts social programs and writes more blank checks to Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. It is our taxpayer dollars that would fuel the minibus or any increases to funding for immigration enforcement in the federal budget. We have an obligation to let our representatives know that we refuse to fund hate and fear and to foot the bill for Trump’s deportation force.
Congress can try to sneak through the “minibus,” but we can stop them if we keep watching and cut off their supply of taxpayer dollars. Our taxpayer dollars should reflect our priorities and values by funding stronger families and communities, not fear. We need to send a strong message to Congress: #DefundHate by rejecting the Trump budget, so we can #FundFamiliesNotFear.
To get involved in the campaign to #DefundHate and stand up against Trump’s attack on immigrants, sign up at http://standup.indivisibleguide.com/.