Thursday January 17, 2019
Home Lead Story Democrats War...

Democrats Warn Trump Against Diverting Funds For The Wall

Illegal crossings at the southern border have dropped dramatically since the late 1970s

0
//
Democrats, USA
U.S. Representatives Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) exit after touring a Border Patrol substation with other legislators in Alamogordo, New Mexico, Jan. 7, 2019. VOA

A Congressional delegation of Democrats touring a Border Patrol facility in New Mexico on Monday warned President Donald Trump against circumventing Congress and diverting already appropriated money towards building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“He can expect a strong and swift challenge from all of us and other members of Congress, and from the American people,” said U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, when asked about Trump’s planned address to the nation and his visit to the border on Thursday.

Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, is leading a Congressional delegation visiting the Border Patrol facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico to investigate the death of 8-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonzo, the second child to die in December after being apprehended crossing the border illegally.

Wall, Democrats
The prototypes for U.S. President Donald Trump’s border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, Jan. 7, 2019. VOA

Democrats, who now control the U.S. House of Representatives, have rejected the Republican president’s demand for $5.7 billion to help build a wall. Without a deal on that sticking point, talks to fund the government — now in the 17th day of a shutdown — have stalled.

Trump has vowed not to back off his 2016 campaign promise to build a wall that he believes will stem illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He promised during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico has refused to do so.

Democrats in Congress say a wall would be expensive, inefficient and immoral.

In New Mexico, Border Patrol agents walked the Congressional delegation through the holding areas of the Alamogordo station, which Representative Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, said were “miraculously” empty.

Castro said the Border Patrol did not provide a report about Gomez’s death nor did they tour the hospital where he was treated for a cold and then released with a prescription for antibiotics and ibuprofen. The boy died shortly after his release.

“We know that CBP is woefully under equipped in terms of its standards of medical care, but we also need to find out whether the doctors in the hospital – how responsible they were in terms of that case,” Castro said.

USA, democrats
Migrants traveling with children walk up a hill to a waiting U.S. Border Patrol agent just inside San Ysidro, Calif., after climbing over the border wall from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

The Border Patrol itself has said their facilities are not properly equipped to hold families, Castro said. “I think all of us who look at what they have here believe that that is true.”

U.S. Representative Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso, said the area where Gomez and his father turned themselves over to Border Patrol is on American soil and already fenced.

“The wall only pushes people out to more dangerous, treacherous crossings, creating even more death,” she said.

Also Read: Will Not Bend in Wall Funding Demand: Donald Trump

Illegal crossings at the southern border have dropped dramatically since the late 1970s, but in recent years more Central American families and unaccompanied children are migrating to the United States. Many are released after turning themselves into border agents and requesting asylum, a legal process that can take years to resolve in U.S. immigration courts. (VOA)

Next Story

William Barr, U.S. Attorney General Nominee Grilled On Russia Probe

The nominee criticized so-called "sanctuary cities" that do not notify federal officials about undocumented immigrants who are taken into custody.

0
USA, Attorney General
Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr, goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee again Wednesday, after pledging in his first day of confirmation hearings to shield the special counsel’s Russia probe from political pressure.

In his initial appearance before the panel, Barr also took issue with Trump’s labeling the investigation of his inner circle’s contacts with Moscow as a “witch hunt.”

“I don’t believe (special counsel Robert) Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt,” Barr said, adding that he intends to let the probe run its course and that the results should be made known to the public and Congress.

Barr said the special counsel could only be terminated for good cause and that “it’s unimaginable” that Mueller would “ever do anything that gave rise to good cause.”

Democrats repeatedly stressed the importance of independence to the role of attorney general and noted Trump’s penchant for lashing out at the Justice Department.

USA, Attorney General
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., accompanied by Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.,(R) questions Attorney General nominee William Barr during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

“I believe it is important that the next attorney general be able to strongly resist pressure, whether from the administration or Congress,” California Democrat Dianne Feinstein said. “He must have the integrity, the strength and the fortitude to tell the president ‘no’ regardless of the consequences.”

“If confirmed, the president is going to expect you to his bidding. I can almost guarantee he’ll cross the line at some point,” Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said.

“I can truly be independent,” Barr insisted. “I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences … I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong.”

Barr’s memo

Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H. W. Bush, has drawn scrutiny for a memo he wrote last year criticizing special counsel Mueller for examining whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation by firing then-FBI Director James Comey in 2017.

USA, Attorney General
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference to announce a criminal law enforcement action involving China, at the Department of Justice in Washington, Nov. 1, 2018. VOA

In a memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation, Barr opined that probing Trump’s actions toward Comey was “fatally misconceived” and “grossly irresponsible.”

The memo, written last June, came to light after Trump nominated Barr, 68, to succeed then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump ousted over his recusal from oversight of the Russia investigation. The document sparked widespread concern among minority Democrats in the Senate, who have long feared Trump intends to shut down the probe.

At the confirmation hearing, Barr argued his memo was “narrow in scope” and did not address the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and other “potential obstruction-of-justice theories.”

Later in the hearing, Barr said, “I think Russians attempted to interfere with the [2016] election, and I think we have to get to the bottom of it.”

USA, Attorney General
Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

Republicans also sought assurances from the nominee. The committee’s new chairman, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, expressed outrage over extensive communications between two FBI agents during the 2016 presidential campaign that showed extreme bias and prejudice against Trump.

“We’re relying on you to clean this place up,” Graham said of the Justice Department.

Graham also asked if, as commander in chief, Trump has the authority to divert federal funding in order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Without looking at the statute, I really couldn’t answer that,” Barr replied.

Also Read: “I Never Worked For Russia”, Says US President Donald Trump

The nominee criticized so-called “sanctuary cities” that do not notify federal officials about undocumented immigrants who are taken into custody. He also weighed in on the current standoff between the White House and congressional Democrats over border wall funding.

“I would like to see a deal reached whereby Congress recognizes that it’s imperative to have border security, and that part of that border security, as a commonsense matter, needs barriers,” Barr said. (VOA)