Udall Votes Against Funding Trump’s Border Wall
Commentary: WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, voted against a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill that includes $1.6 billion in funding for President Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border. During a markup of the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, Udall said that he also could not support the bill until the approximately 2,300 children who have been separated from their families as a result of the Trump administration’s family separation policy are reunited with their families – and until a humane process is in place for families coming to the United States.
Udall joined five senators in voting against the bill, which was approved by the committee by a vote of 26-5 and now moves to the full Senate. Udall also cosponsored an amendment from Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) which directed DHS to report to the committee on alternatives to detention, and which was adopted by a unanimous voice vote.
At the committee meeting, Udall spoke in opposition to the DHS funding bill and submitted the following statement for the record:
Chairman Shelby. I would like to explain why I voted “no” on this bill.
I respect the bipartisan work here today. But as a border state Senator, I believe that President Trump’s border wall—or fence—is ineffective and that the $1.6 billion in funding in this bill is a waste of money. Money that should be used on things to actually make us safer.
The president bragged to the American people in the campaign that Mexico would pay for his wall. And look where we are now. He wants an upfront $25 billion appropriation.
I also cannot support this bill until the 2,300 children the president cruelly separated from their parents are reunited, and until we establish a humane policy for families coming here, fleeing persecution.
The president was under tremendous pressure – at home and abroad – to end his horrific “zero tolerance” policy.
While the president has retreated from the policy of separating families – he now insists these families remain in custody while their immigration cases proceed.
I have serious doubts that the president’s new policy is lawful. His executive order directs the Attorney General to file a request with the District Court to modify the Flores settlement so they can detain children for long periods. We’ve seen the courts strike down this administration’s draconian policies over and over. I don’t think this time will be any different.
And I am not convinced that DHS will provide adequate living conditions for families – in light of the inhumane conditions these children have been subject to.
We’ve seen children warehoused. Caged like animals behind wire fencing. Sleeping on the floor. Living in tent cities.
We have no assurance from the administration that families in custody will be treated any better.
And there is still no clear path forward for reunification. Every day that a young child is separated from his or her parents is another day of trauma and harm done to that child.
DHS and Health and Human Services should be moving at lightning speed to reunify. But, as of today, we don’t know how long this process will take.
The president’s executive order directs the Secretary of Defense to provide DHS with facilities to detain immigrant families. There are many humane solutions the president could have announced yesterday. Like using alternatives to detention. Instead, he directed Secretary Mattis to open up military facilities for immigrant family internment camps. The crisis the president created isn’t going away.
Mr. Chairman, I respect the bipartisan work here today. But I cannot vote for this bill—and more funding for the president’s wall—while children are separated from their parents and the president continues to create a border crisis with his zero tolerance inhumane policies.