Following Harvey and Maria, House Republicans Propose $10 Billion … for Trump’s Wall

by Gabe Ortiz –

Maria’s aftermath in Puerto Rico is nothing short of catastrophic. “Water, food, and fuel are scarce on the island,” noted Vox, with more than three million U.S. citizens facing the prospect of living up to six months without power. According to some estimates,damage could exceed $30 billion. Our fellow Americans are in crisis. Since the disaster, House Republicans, led by Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-R), have unveiled a $10 billion proposal … for Donald Trump’s racist border wall and immoral mass deportation force:

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said his panel will vote on the legislation next week. The bill also would add 10,000 more border patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers, tap the National Guard to patrol the southern border and target people who have overstayed visas.

“Now that we have a partner in the White House who has made this a top priority, it’s time to send a bill to President Trump’s desk so we can deliver the American people the security they have long demanded and deserve,” McCaul said in a statement.

Yes, brown people have been a priority for this president, but insomuch as criminalizing them for their immigration status or ignoring their literal cries for helpbecause he’s too busy being the commander-in-chief of his latest Twitter war. And now, McCaul is now championing Trump’s wall, despite saying last February that “I don’t think we need a 2,000-mile wall down there,” and that it’s “a very expensive proposition.” Yet one very expensive proposition that he’s now perfectly willing to throw $10 billion at.

Coincidentally, $10 billion is also the amount of money in the “rainy day fund” of McCaul’s home state, which Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is trying to access to assist his city—some of which rests in part of McCaul’s district—after Hurricane Harvey. But, Gov. Greg Abbot has denied his request.

Harvey, “which destroyed thousands of homes and businesses across southeastern Texas, is now estimated to be one of the costliest disasters in American history, with damages that could exceed $100 billion.” An estimated 400,000 homes in the state were damaged, and some 32,000 Texans sought sanctuary in shelters. And yet, Abbott is blocking Turner from accessing any aid for his devastated city. The Houston Chronicle:

By the way, this isn’t some partisan fight. Even Steve Radack, a conservative Republican Harris County commissioner, believes the governor must not wait until 2019 for legislative action. “I think it’s a terrible mistake,” Radack told the editorial board Wednesday. “There should be a special session.” The commissioner added that no area provides more sales tax revenue to the state than Harris County – $5.5 billion – and it’s time for Austin to send those funds back down Highway 290.

The governor rejected Turner’s request. He and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, another Houstonian, have said the mayor can use funds held by Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones for Harvey cleanup and recovery efforts. They’re mistaken. TIRZ bond funds are legally restricted to the use for which they were issued.

The governor has said the mayor’s request is unprecedented. Again, he’s mistaken. In 2013, the Legislature tapped into the Rainy Day Fund to help the Bastrop area recover from devastating wildfires. Bastrop County residents will tell you those fires were bad, but they didn’t cause damage expected to top $150 billion. That’s the toll Harvey wrought.

Polling has already shown that Texans don’t want the fucking wall that Mexico will never pay for. Trump’s own government has declared the border secure (this is really the work of previous presidents, but whatever. Also, why the need for the wall then?). And by a majority, Americans support giving undocumented immigrants with deep roots here a chance to fix their legal status over a mass deportation force.

There is an urgent need when it comes to immigration, but it’s for passing bipartisan legislation like the DREAM Act, not a wall and more immigration agents. And, assisting devastated people should also be a top priority. Despite voting against Sandy relief in 2013, McCaul has called his Republican colleagues’s votes against Harvey aid “unconscionable.” What’s also unconscionable is aiding Trump’s racism while Americans—including undocumented ones—continue to suffer.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos