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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

PA Senator Bob Casey's Response: US Border Wall

Read it for yourselves: 

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the construction of a southern border wall.  I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

On January 25, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Orders directing the construction of a wall on our Nation’s southern border, reordering immigration enforcement priorities and requiring local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration duties. While the Senate has not received an official funding request, it is estimated that construction of the wall could cost anywhere from $12 to $15 billion. In addition to construction of a wall, the orders also put in place burdensome requirements on local police that could divert resources away from tracking down violent criminals by mandating that local police carry out immigration enforcement duties that have long been the responsibility of the federal government.  

President Trump’s actions could have grave potential effects on Pennsylvania communities. The President’s proposed actions could also turn our local police forces into a de facto immigration force, taking community cops off their local beats and robbing them of the ability to target their resources and efforts on stopping violent criminals and addressing local problems. And, because his directives also threaten to withhold federal funding from cities and communities which do not agree to federal requests to jail individuals due to immigration status, they could also potentially strip needed resources from communities across the country, crippling funding for schools, depleting resources for domestic violence shelters and halting economic development projects. 

I support taking significant steps to secure our border. Several years ago, I joined 67 of my colleagues in voting to pass the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744).  This legislation doubled the number of border patrol agents to 38,400, built 700 miles of fencing along the border and substantially increased funding for border security. It would have done so while also taking other steps to fix our broken immigration system in a comprehensive manner. Comprehensive immigration reform can not only secure our borders and provide for a tough, but fair pathway to earned citizenship for hardworking immigrants, it can do so in a way that creates jobs, fosters innovation and increases tax revenue. Accordingly, I support taking an accountable, common-sense approach to immigration reform that creates a long-term solution and fixes our immigration problem once and for all. Such an approach should prioritize a secure border, continue enforcement of immigration laws, protect the wages of existing authorized workers, assure that all immigrants pay their taxes, require employers to verify that their employees are authorized to work in the United States, help unite families and offer a practical solution to the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently present in the United States, especially children.

The President’s Executive Order does not accomplish these things. Rather, it ignores the need for comprehensive reform of our immigration system while proposing to not only spend billions, but also to drain vital resources from our local communities. We can do better. The American economy – our families, businesses and workers – depend upon it.

On July 27, 2017, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3219, the Make America Secure Appropriations Act, which is a $789 billion defense spending package for Fiscal Year 2018 that includes $1.6 billion in funding for the construction of a wall along the southern border of the U.S. The Senate is currently considering this appropriations legislation; please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should this legislation move forward.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, http://casey.senate.gov .  I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office, or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Sincerely,
Bob Casey
United States Senator

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