Texas lawmaker: Fund ports of entry, not wall

A Texas Democrat says President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE should back funding at U.S. ports of entry instead of a wall on the Mexican border, arguing dangerous drugs are entering the United States through the ports.

“As an alternative to the President’s misguided insistence on physical barrier funding, I am proposing that four billion dollars be appropriated to fully fund border security infrastructure at our nation's ports of entry,” Rep. Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaHow Pelosi is punishing some critics while rewarding others New Dem caucus chairman: Some wall is good, but not new wall Border lawmakers press Trump to beef up existing security MORE (D-Texas) said in a statement.

Vela, along with fellow Democratic Rio Grande Valley Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente González, has long opposed President Trump's proposed border wall.

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In 2016, Vela wrote an open letter telling Trump to “take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”

A majority of drugs seized at the southern border were found at ports of entry, mostly in privately owned vehicles trying to cross the border, according to a 2017 report by Customs and Border Protection. 

“The fact is clear that eighty-five to eighty-eight percent of the fentanyl and opioid seizures occur at our ports of entry. For that reason, I believe that federal resources dedicated to these measures are a much better bang for the buck than wasted border wall funding,” said Vela.

Border representatives are also concerned about how the federal government would procure privately owned land to build the border wall, and its effect on state parks, biological reserves and strategic installations such as a SpaceX launch facility in Vela's district.

All border representatives in the incoming Congress oppose the wall. Just one of them, Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFreshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race DCCC opens Texas office to protect House pickups, target vulnerable GOP seats Dems ramp up subpoena threats MORE (Texas), is a Republican.

Trump is demanding that Congress approve $5 billion in funding for the wall. The standoff has led to a nearly two-week partial government shutdown.