Congressional Democrats are demanding that the Trump administration “halt immediately” the construction of a wall at the southern border during the coronavirus pandemic in order to conserve funds to combat the health crisis.
A total of 91 House and Senate Democrats made the request in a letter to Attorney General William Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, arguing that construction of a border wall with Mexico threatens communities and “compromises” efforts to fight the virus.
“Money that should be invested in healthcare, small businesses, and fighting the spread of COVID-19 is instead being used to build an ineffective and wasteful border wall that does not solve our immigration crisis or protect our homeland,” the 66 House representatives and 25 senators wrote. “We should be using all resources and funding to combat this virus and protect Americans, instead of using critical funding and resources to continue the construction of a border wall.”
“At this juncture, the priority of the United States must be to stop the spread of COVID-19. The continuation of wall construction compromises those efforts,” the lawmakers said.
The identical House and Senate letters were led by two border area Democrats, Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas and Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.
Along with thousands of National Guard troops sent to the southern border over the last two years to support efforts by Homeland Security, another 540 troops are being sent during the coronavirus outbreak to help federal agents “enforce their orders to secure against potential COVID positive migrants coming over the border,” U.S. Northern Command lead Air Force General Terrence O’Shaughnessy said earlier this month.
Meanwhile, border wall construction, a priority for President Trump since the earliest days of his campaign, continues in Arizona even as states shut down nonessential construction during the pandemic.