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Democrats call on Trump to halt border wall construction amid pandemic

Democrats call on Trump to halt border wall construction amid pandemic
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Dozens of congressional Democrats are calling on the Trump administration to halt all construction on President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE's signature border wall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter spearheaded by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDemocrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Intelligence leaders warn of threats from China, domestic terrorism Top academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act MORE (D-N.M.), the lawmakers warn that "continuing border wall construction places local communities at unnecessary risk" and urge Trump officials to "immediately" stop all border wall construction.

More than two dozen Democratic senators and 66 representatives signed the letter, which was sent Wednesday to Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGarland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers Dominion: Ex-Michigan state senator 'sowing discord in our democracy' with election fraud claims MORE, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperThe paradox of US-India relations Overnight Defense: Trump-era land mine policy unchanged amid review | Biden spending outline coming Friday | First lady sets priorities for relaunched military families initiative Biden to keep Trump-era land mine policy in place during review MORE and Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfIntel heads to resume worldwide threats hearing scrapped under Trump Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave Russia suspected of massive State Department email hack: report MORE.

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The letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer'Building Back Better' requires a new approach to US science and technology Pew poll: 50 percent approve of Democrats in Congress Former state Rep. Vernon Jones launches challenge to Kemp in Georgia MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden on refugee cap: 'We couldn't do two things at once' For a win on climate, let's put our best player in the game Biden angers Democrats by keeping Trump-era refugee cap MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, as well as Reps. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) and Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesRace debate grips Congress Cheney: Afghanistan withdrawal a 'huge propaganda victory' for terrorists Democrats vow to go 'bold' — with or without GOP MORE (N.Y.), members of House Democratic leadership, among others.

“It is dangerous and unacceptable for border wall construction to continue during this public health crisis,” Cuellar said in a statement. “As medical experts and the Center for Disease Control [and Prevention] implore Americans to stay at home, construction crews continue to work in close quarters, jeopardizing the health of our border communities. This is a public health threat and it must be stopped.”

States across the country, including those along the southern border such as California and Arizona, have shut down schools, restaurants and other nonessential businesses in an attempt to curb the spread of the outbreak. This has caused many construction sites to be shut down, though some construction at the border, such as in Arizona, has continued after being labeled essential.

Trump has maintained that the continuation of border wall construction is important, saying that the wall is keeping undocumented immigrants who have potentially contracted the virus from entering the country. But Democrats counter that continuing with construction raises other health concerns. 

"Continuation of construction only exacerbates the public health risks for those living at the southern border, detracting from our national efforts against fighting this virus," the letter from Democrats states.

"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," it adds.