The Fiscal and Moral Bankruptcy of Walls

Last week when Majority Leader McConnell was asked whether or not Mexico would pay for Trump’s border wall, he gave a surprisingly candid answer: “Uh, no.”

That leaves us with the question of where the $20 billion+ will come from if the president continues to insist on building the wall. According to drafts of the Trump budget, the administration is considering cuts that could hamper both our national security and emergency preparedness.

The proposal, drawn up by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), also would slash the budget of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which provides disaster relief after hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters. The Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget in 2017 would be cut 14 percent to about $7.8 billion, while the TSA and FEMA budgets would be reduced about 11 percent each to $4.5 billion and $3.6 billion, respectively.

The cuts are proposed even as the planned budget for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees all of them, grows 6.4 percent to $43.8 billion, according to the plan, which was obtained by The Washington Post. Some $2.9 billion of that would go to building the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, with $1.9 billion funding “immigration detention beds” and other Immigration and Customs Enforcement expenses and $285 million set aside to hire 500 more Border Patrol agents and 1,000 more ICE agents and support staffers.

Keep in mind that this is the president’s proposed budget — which is unlikely to pass Congress. But it speaks profoundly to this administration’s priorities. At a time when net migration from Mexico to the U.S. is negative, they want a useless border wall/fence, increased capacity to detain migrants and more border patrol/ICE agents. To fund those things they want to take money away from disaster relief, the Coast Guard and airport security.

This is a perfect example of the fact that budgets aren’t just financial documents. They are moral documents as well. All of the fear-mongering from this administration is less about the security of the American public and more about the white nationalist agenda of people like Bannon and Miller. Whether it comes via travel bans, an apparatus for a deportation force, or a wall/fence, their intent is to target immigrants and refugees — the people they see as a threat to white supremacy in this country.

That is not only fiscally unsound. It is morally bankrupt.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.