Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) is urging President Joe Biden to reverse his administration’s decision to waive dozens of laws to expedite construction on Donald Trump’s southern border wall, saying that the administration must instead examine the U.S.’s role in destabilizing Latin American countries.
In a statement on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez rebuked the administration and pushed back against the supposed justification for the decision by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which claimed that the agency is required to use previously authorized funding to build the wall by the end of the year.
“The President needs to take responsibility for this decision and reverse course,” she said. “A wall does nothing to deter people who are fleeing poverty and violence from coming to the United States. You do not risk your life or your childrens’ lives going through the Darién Gap or traversing hundreds of miles of desert if you have any other options. Walls only serve to push migrants into more remote areas, increasing their chances of death. It is a cruel policy.”
This week, the Biden administration posted a notice that it is planning to bypass 26 environmental, public health, and Native American and other cultural preservation laws in order to continue construction on the border wall in Texas — continuing the Trump administration’s inhumane and fascist policy of attempting to keep asylum seekers out of the country, no matter the human cost.
Activists strongly condemned the decision, saying that it is a “slap in the face” to local communities that support asylum seekers who cross the border.
“We are confused and angered by the decision to further punish the most innocent, most vulnerable people in our communities, people who are already underserved and ignored across regional and state governments, with this increase in border walls,” said immigration and community advocacy group Voces Unidas RGV (Rio Grande Valley) in a statement. “Limiting access to the legal ports of entry in locations that lack shelter, food and washroom facilities has put enormous pressure on humanitarian groups and their resources to keep these people safe.”
Ocasio-Cortez said that the Biden administration would do better to re-examine and acknowledge policies that have contributed to the political repression and economic deprivation in Latin America that is forcing people to flee their homes.
“[T]he U.S. must take examining the root of migration more seriously, re-examine policy towards Latin America, and stop contributing to the destabilization that drives migration — as Senator Marco Rubio’s Venezuela sanctions have done,” Ocasio-Cortez continued.
The lawmaker has been speaking out on U.S. policies in Latin America recently, emphasizing the deadly sanctions on Venezuela that are contributing to a growing humanitarian crisis in the country. The sanctions have given rise to major economic instability that is forcing millions of Venezuelans to flee the country.
Advocates have repeatedly spoken out against the U.S.’s sanctions in Venezuela and places like Cuba, pointing out that they are creating the very conditions that are forcing families to seek asylum in the U.S. to begin with.
Such cruel immigration and foreign policy decisions are a product of both Democratic and Republican politicians. In his first two years in office, Biden has gone back on many of his campaign promises on immigration, in some ways expanding upon Trump’s horrific policies like separating and imprisoning families at the border — and is now seeking to continue to build a border wall that he once promised would not see “another foot” constructed under his administration.
Ocasio-Cortez condemned conservative and far right lawmakers’ quest to throw money at policies like the border wall, surveillance and sanctions, noting that such lawmakers are always one anti-immigration package away from supposedly “solving” the issue of border security, as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes wrote on social media on Thursday.
“Exactly! It’s always one money pit away,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a response to Hayes. “Forget discussing foreign policy, sanctions, immigration policy, and factors incentivizing people to travel on foot in the first place. Instead throw more money at the problem in another ‘border deal’ until it’s weaponized again, and repeat.”
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