Trump’s vanity wall is biggest obstacle to protecting Dreamers

Trump’s vanity wall is biggest obstacle to protecting Dreamers
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Border communities and Dreamers are both victims of thoughtless obstructionism at the hands of the Trump administration. Take the current negotiations to protect Dreamers in exchange for border enforcement, which seemed to have reached an impasse over a useless wall and other immigration provisions.

But there is a way forward.

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There are two moderate, wall-less bipartisan companion bills in the House and Senate that would provide a balanced approach to both a Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) fix and border enforcement.

 

Introduced in the House by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Democrat running for Will Hurd's seat raises over million in first 100 days of campaign Democrats keen to take on Cornyn despite formidable challenges MORE (R-Texas), Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDemocratic leaders seek balance amid liberal push to go big on immigration Katherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent The Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck MORE (D-Calif.) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamEx-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm Ex-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm Crazy California an outlier? No, we are the canary in the coal mine MORE (R-Calif.) and in the Senate by Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death Anti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid McCain's family, McCain Institute to promote #ActsOfCivility in marking first anniversary of senator's death MORE (R-Ariz.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThe United States broken patent system is getting worse Biden faces scrutiny for his age from other Democrats Democrats press FBI for details on Kavanaugh investigation MORE (D-Del.), the Unifying and Securing America (USA) Act would offer immigrant youths a pathway to citizenship along with a data-driven evaluation and cost analysis — per linear mile — of the resources truly needed for border enforcement. These proposals also suggest the use of surveillance technologies, with adequate privacy protections, as a better and more effective alternative to a concrete wall.

Although we do not believe any more border enforcement is needed, these proposals lay out a process for assessing what, if any, additional enforcement is appropriate — and do so in consultation with border communities and other stakeholders. Both proposals rightly remove Trump’s vanity project, the border wall. The wall not only represents a costly and ineffective solution, but also would prove damaging to the environment and several endangered species; would rip away land from private U.S. landowners; and would cause life-threatening flooding.

Nearly nine out of 10 Americans support a permanent solution for DACA recipients, while six out of 10 oppose a border wall. If the people’s voices were heard, these bills likely would pass if congressional leadership simply allowed them to go to the floor for a vote.

But the main obstacle to these bills is a fear-mongering and nativist administration, supported by a few congressional members who —with no regard for how the public feels and with no real input from border communities — declare these bills non-starters for failing to fully fund the wall.

The president and Congress would be smart to check in with border communities, get a dose of reality, and narrow their negotiations to what is really needed.

Communities along the U.S./Mexico border are home to 15 million people. These communities are culturally and socially vibrant, serve as a gateway for trade that strengthens our nation’s economy, and are among the safest in the nation. Apprehensions of unauthorized border crossers are at historic lows, and even the Department of Homeland Security has stated that the border is more difficult to cross than ever before.

Furthermore, in the past two decades, anti-immigrant policymakers have used a negative narrative about the border to justify the exponential growth in border enforcement resources, including the doubling of Border Patrol agents, almost 700 miles of fencing, and all sizes and shapes of surveillance technologies. The fear incited by this rhetoric, which didn’t start with Trump, is responsible for countless immigration checkpoints located miles away from the actual border. These checkpoints interfere with local families’ ability to go to a doctor’s appointment or school without suffering the indignities of racial profiling, or worse.

In short, we don’t need a border wall. What we need is a narrow, commonsense approach that ensures that border policies are based on facts, not fiction. This is why these newer Senate and House proposals are the right approach.

Vicki Gaubeca is policy and communications strategist with the Southern Border Communities Coalition. Follow her on Twitter @vgaubeca.