MISSION, Texas – Congressman Henry Cuellar recently held a news conference at the Center for Education & Economic Development in Mission to discuss a range of subjects including border security and immigration.

The Laredo Democrat referenced congressional action on the border wall, NAFTA, the North American Development Bank, stopping illegal firearms from being smuggled into Mexico, Migrant Protection Protocol, fever ticks, Census 2020, and education funding.

The news conference was partly in English and partly in Spanish.

“It is unfortunate that the President is attempting to unconstitutionally reprogram $7.2 billion in federal funding to build a border wall,” Cuellar said.

Under the Trump Administration’s plans, Cuellar said, “$3.7 million would be drawn from military construction projects and $3.5 million would be drawn from military efforts to combat drug smuggling.”

These funds were properly appropriated by Congress, Cuellar said, and specifically from one of the committees he sits on.

“Reprogramming these funds without the Appropriation Committee’s explicit authorization is unconstitutional,” Cuellar said.

Cuellar said that as a vice-chair, he was able to secure prohibitions on the use of funding to construct fencing within these parts of his district:

  • Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge
  • Bentsen-rio Grande Valley State Park
  • La Lomita Historical Park
  • National Butterfly Center
  • Vista Del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge
  • Historical Cemeteries

“I also secured mandates in the bill that require: consultation with local jurisdictions; and designs which mitigate community or environmental impacts,” Cuellar said.

The lawmaker said House appropriators had secured language prohibiting any new Southwest Border Wall construction in FOUR separate House-passed funding bills: energy and water; military construction and veterans affairs; defense, and homeland security.

“In conference with the Senate, the Homeland (Security Committee) prohibitions were removed to fund a 14th Century border security solution to the detriment of critical military, health, and education programs,” Cuellar said. “My NO VOTE was intended to send the bill back to conference committee lawmakers, so they could negotiate in earnest to prohibit any funding for a wasteful border wall.”