EDINBURG, RGV – A top economic development consultant in the Rio Grande Valley has disputed claims by President Trump that security along the southwest border has become a national emergency.
Trump said Friday he could command the building of a border wall without the approval of Congress by declaring border security a national emergency. Trump wants Congress to approve $5.6 billion for a border wall.
Ramiro Garza, a former city manager for Edinburg and congressional candidate now has his own consultancy business.
“A National Emergency on the Southern border?! No, Mr. President. There is no national emergency. Instead, your political rhetoric is negatively impacting our efforts in attracting new investment and jobs to our area,” Garza said in a tweet. With his tweet, Garza posted the hashtag #NoBorderWall.
A partial government shutdown is now in its third week because of Trump’s insistence that a stopgap spending bill include $5.6 billion for a border wall. Democrats, who now control the U.S. House have said they will not approve that much funding for a border wall. At present, the Republican majority in the Senate are sticking with Trump on the issue. As a result of the partial shutdown around 800,000 federal workers are now furloughed or working without pay.
At a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, Trump was asked if he had considered building a border wall without congressional support.
“Yes, I have and I can do it if I want. We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country,” Trump responded.
“I haven’t done it. I may do it. We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly.”
If a national emergency is declared to build the wall, the administration likely will face lawsuits questioning the legality of the move.
Asked why he doesn’t allow a stopgap spending bill to cover all federal agencies except the Department of Homeland Security to proceed, Trump said:
“We won’t be opening this until it is solved. We think this is a much bigger problem, the border is a much (more) dangerous problem. We want to do what’s right and we want to do it all at one time. We don’t want to take it in pieces. We just don’t want to do that.”
14th Century solution
In a speech on the floor of the U.S. House, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar denounced plans to build a border wall. He said a border wall is a 14th Century solution. Here is his speech in full:
“Everybody talks about the border and how violent it is but if you look at the latest FBI statistics, whether it is rape, murder or assault, the border crime rate is lower than the national crime rate. I can take any city that you want and you will see that none of the most dangerous cities in the country are on the border. None of them are. If you look at my home town of Laredo, and its murder rate and you compare it to D.C., where we are at, it is about three or four times higher in Washington, D.C. So, if people are worried about the crime, let’s start with Washington, D.C.
“The wall is a 14th Century solution to a 21st Century issue. We want to see strong border security. I live on the border. I don’t just visit for a second or two hours and say I know the border better. I know what works down there and the wall is a 14th Century solution. If you want to spend billions of dollars on a wall I will spend a hundred dollars on a ladder that will take care of that wall. This is why we have to make sure we spend money on Border Patrol – we are 2,000 Border Patrol short. And, in fact, if we spend money on retentions we can keep them, we don’t have to lose them.
“We are losing Border Patrol right now. But we can’t spend it the wrong way. The administration just spent $14.8 million to hire two Border Patrol. Now, maybe one of those is Captain America, I don’t know. But, are we going to spend $15 million to hire two Border Patrol, spend that money on bonuses, give them the equipment that we have. Protect private property rights on the border so we can go ahead and do that. If you want to stop drugs, look at the latest DEA report and you will see the latest DEA report that will tell you that drugs come in through our ports of entry. So, you can put the most beautiful wall and they are going to come in through a port of entry. Put money on the ports of entry, put money on the CBP facilities we need.
“Finally, the last thing I want to say is this. There is technology that works for the military. If it works for the military we can certainly use it on the border. Personnel, technology, we have just got to look at the right way of securing the border. I want to work with you. We want to work with you but the Wall is a 14th Century solution. We can do better than that.”
Critics of the Trump Administration claim false information is being conveyed to the American public about dangers on the Southwest border.
Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said told the Fox News channel:
“This isn’t just about stopping people from coming across. It is about stopping terrorists coming across. It is about stopping drugs from flowing across the border of our country. Last year alone, there were nearly 4,000-known or suspected terrorists that CBP picked up that came across our southern border.”
This data was provided by the Department of Homeland Security. However, according to Chris Hayes, a presenter on MSNBC, this refers to suspected terrorists that came in from across the globe, mainly through airports.
Hayes said “Trump TV, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the House Minority Whip” are parodying this statistic when talking about border security and the wall. He said Sanders’ claim was an example of “slander zombie statistics” that keep “roaming the earth.”
Hayes then cited an example of misinformation by the Trump Administration. He said the Department of Justice claimed that between 2003 and 2009, undocumented immigrants were convicted of 69,929 offenses, most of which were gender based violence against women.
However, he said a Washington Post study showed that the period in question was 1955 to 2010. In other words, 55 years, not six. Hayes said data covered arrests, not convictions.
The DOJ report also listed 402 foreign born individuals convicted of terrorism related offenses, Hayes pointed out. However, Hayes said, the report did not mention that about 100 of them had only come to the U.S. because they had been extradited to face trial.
“Those are not immigrants,“ Hayes said. “This is blatant false propaganda.”
Civil rights groups sued the federal agency last May seeking a retraction or correction under the Information Quality Act, Hayes said. “The DOJ refused to issue an official correction but it is saying, in future reports ‘the Department will strive to minimize the potential for misinformation’.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows the border wall being built near Santa Teresa in New Mexico. (Photo: Ruben R. Ramirez/El Paso Times).