President Trump declared a national emergency today to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border despite opposition from Congress, after signing the latest spending bill, which includes nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers out of steel, far less than the $5.7 billion he requested. Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib issued a statement that they voted against the bill because it gives more funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “That is the right thing to do. We’ve been pushing for Democrats to do the right thing, to stop playing [Trump’s] games,” says our guest Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer for RAICES, the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.
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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from Washington, D.C.
President Trump is expected to declare a national emergency today to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border despite opposition from Congress. On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Trump planned to sign the latest spending bill, but to also declare a national emergency. The bill includes nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of new border barriers out of steel, far less than the $5.7 billion requested by President Trump. Democratic Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib issued a statement that they voted against the bill because it gives more funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That’s ICE.
Well, for more, we’re joined via Democracy Now! video stream by Erika Andiola, chief advocacy officer for RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.
Erika, thanks so much for joining us from West Virginia. Can you talk about the bill that is about to be signed and then President Trump’s threat?
ERIKA ANDIOLA: Yeah. For me, it’s, honestly, very alarming, very, very alarming, to see that this president is about to use a national emergency as a political card, basically, to try to get this wall, which we know it’s not going to do anything to actually solve the problem that is happening at the border. The problem that’s happening at the border, you know, it’s been said over and over again that it’s humanitarian. And what does that mean? That there’s human beings literally right now trying to figure out how to ask asylum in this country, which is legal. And so, it’s definitely alarming. And I really hope that we can rise up, if he does this, because we can’t continue to let him do this.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Erika, talk about the congressmembers, like Joaquin Castro, who represents the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, like AOC, Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, their voting against the legislation, and why.
ERIKA ANDIOLA: Yeah, which is the right thing to do. And that is because, you know, we need at least—you know, we’ve been pushing for Democrats to actually do the right thing, to stop playing his games. He has been using this. He’s been using this basically for political purposes. We saw, you know, when the elections were happening in 2018, where all of a sudden the caravan was this huge threat, and then the elections are over, and there’s nothing else about the caravan coming out of Trump’s mouth, you know, right after November. And so, we have seen that this is a political stunt.
And the most alarming thing is that we have—you know, what worries me is that we have Democrats actually playing his game, trying to give him more money for DHS, trying to give more money, which can be—and, I assure you, will be—used to continue to detain people. And so, we have to make sure that we push back and that we let Democrats know that this is a time to stand up against Trump, you know, and everything that he’s trying to do, because, at the end of the day, he’s going to push for what he wants. And we are seeing this right now.