AUSTIN, Texas – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and the Texas legislative delegation are at odds over President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Cornyn, R-Texas, supports the declaration. On a visit to Austin this week, Cornyn said: “This is not the way things ought to function. We, Congress, ought to step up on a bipartisan basis and do what we’ve always done, which is provide for the security of the American people and including at the border.”
Congress did come to a bipartisan agreement on boosting border security funding. It recently approved $1.375 billion for the construction of barriers at the southern border, and Cornyn voted for the measure. However, the $1.375 billion was far short of the $5.7 billion President Trump was looking for. So, the president declared a national emergency, in order to divert an additional $3.6 billion from other accounts for more border barriers. Sixteen states filed a lawsuit seeking to block the action.
“I personally believe that what’s happening at the border is an emergency, and we ought to do whatever is necessary within the law to protect the American people and our sovereignty,” Cornyn told the Austin American-Statesman. “This has become a part of our polarized politics and not really a process in solving the problem.”
Cornyn will be on the ballot for re-election in 2020. President Trump has endorsed his re-election bid.
The Valley’s legislative delegation in Austin does not believe there is a crisis on the border. State Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and state Reps. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, Armando Martinez, D-Weslaco, Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Harlingen, Sergio Muñoz, D-Mission, Oscar Longora, D-La Joya, Bobby Guerra, D-McAllen, Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and Alex Dominguez, D-Brownsville, penned this joint letter:
“The Rio Grande Valley Delegation of the Texas Legislature stands opposed to President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency for a non-existent border crisis.
“We are concerned that this latest effort by the president to propagandize the situation on the Texas-Mexico border only seeks to misconstrue the current situation on the border, and could actually lead to federal dollars being moved away from proven strategies of border control to solutions that are being driven by the politics of our president.
“President Trump was elected on a campaign promise to build a border wall, without using taxpayer dollars. He has failed to accomplish that promise. President Trump spent the first two years of his presidency with control of both houses of Congress, yet failed to reach any solution working within his own party.
“As border Texans, we are worried that this contrived national emergency could entail the taking of private property through eminent domain. We are concerned that the current process for eminent domain will not properly protect the rights of Texans, many of them who have owned this property since the founding of this great state.
“We hope and pray for a time when Washington, D.C. works more closely with communities on the border, to deal with the very real problems in our current immigration system and border security strategy. Yet, we will not support President Trump’s attacks on the border when the cities we represent are some of the safest in the country.”
The one Valley legislator at the state Capitol who did not sign the letter was state Sten. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville. However, later, Lucio added his opposition to the national emergency declaration.
Lucio congratulated the Valley members of the House of Representatives and Sen. Hinojosa for expressing opposition to the President’s declared national emergency. He said such a declaration releases billions of dollars in federal funds to construct a wall along the US-Mexico Border.
“The National Emergencies Act is designed for special powers in times of crisis both foreign and domestic. I’m principally opposed to the use of such ability to circumvent Congress’ authority as a co-equal branch of government,” Lucio said.
“The wall does not reflect the bi-cultural, bi-national values of border Texans, and I commend my colleagues for the firm stance on this issue.”
Lucio added: “I support legal immigration, I support asylum for victims of harm, I support the strong presence of law enforcement to prevent illegal activity, and I support continued state investment for border security. I do not support a border wall.”
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, was a member of the House-Senate committee that fashioned the compromise border security funding bill. Cuellar said he opposed President’s Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.
“The President’s declaration of this “so-called emergency” is a violation of constitutional authority to reallocate billions of federal dollars that have been already appropriated by the U.S. Congress. He is taking money away from the military, from our law enforcement officials and from many other needed services,” Cuellar said.
The president’s intent, Cuellar said, is to bypass congressional authority, pointing out that the power of the purse belongs to congress under the U.S. Constitution.
“I, along with many of my colleagues, disagree with the President’s mischaracterization of the border. The border is a place of opportunity, community, and family. I live at the border— I eat the food, breathe the air, and call it home. According to the latest FBI statistics, the border is safer than most other places across the nation. There is no crisis,” Cuellar said.
“As the only border member on the conference committee, I worked hard with appropriators from both parties and both chambers to find a compromise that will keep the government open and properly secure our southern border. This bipartisan bill to keep the government open was passed by the Senate on a 83- 16 vote, and the House by a 300-128 vote showing strong bipartisan support.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows U.S. Sen. John Cornyn speaking at a news conference last month at the Anzalduas International Bridge.