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Biden Cancels Billions For Trump’s Military-Funded Border Wall

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

President Joe Biden is cancelling billions in funding for construction of a wall at the southern border that had been authorized by his predecessor, according to The Hill.

Donald Trump had used emergency powers in 2019 to raid Defense Department coffers in order to fund his precious border wall after Congress declined to fully fund the project. Now the White House says some of the leftover funding will be used to help reverse the environmental damage caused by construction of the wall.

"Consistent with the President's Proclamation terminating the redirection of funds for border wall, no more money will be diverted from other purposes to building a border wall," a Biden administration official said Friday. "Today, the Department of Defense will begin cancelling all wall projects using the diverted funds, and will take steps to return remaining unobligated military construction funds to their appropriated purpose as permitted by law."

The move follows on Biden's immediate cancellation upon taking office of the state of emergency Trump had declared at the southern border. In total, Trump had secured some $16 billion for his precious wall, with about $6 billion of it being appropriated by Congress, according to the Associated Press. Now some of the $1.4 billion in funding that had been appropriated for the wall will instead be used to address environmental damage caused by the wall, including soil erosion in the San Diego area and increased risk of flooding in the Rio Grande Valley.

According to the AP, as of mid-January, the government had spent $6.1 billion of the $10.8 billion in work it had contracted to have done. Trump reportedly worked "feverishly" his final year in office in order to complete more than 450 miles of the wall.

In January, following the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, Trump traveled to Texas to take one last sad little victory lap on the wall, declaring, "I kept my promises" on completing 450 miles of wall.

Based on the amount still under contract, another 214 miles would have been built, bringing the total to 664 miles.

But President Biden brought that chapter to a close on Friday. Good riddance.

Why Is The Washington Post Hyping The GOP's ‘Border Crisis’?

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Eagerly joining forces with partisan Republicans, the Washington Post over the weekend uncorked a doomsday write-up about the surge of young migrants currently overwhelming U.S. facilities along the Southern Border. Laying all of the blame for the three-decade problem directly at the feet of the new, two-month-old Democratic administration, the Post article echoed every conceivable GOP talking point.

What the piece failed to do was include crucial context for a complicated policy puzzle, and to delve deeply into whether Trump spent four years deliberately creating a border crisis that Biden is now trying to fix.

The Post also included no context for how Biden's brand new administration has been addressing border crossings while at the same time dealing with the aftermath of a deadly insurrection, an impeachment trial, and passing the largest social spending bill in U.S. history. All in less than 60 days.

The Post is hardly alone in manically hyping the border story, at the behest of the GOP. In a highly unusual move, ABC This Week staged its entire Sunday program from the border, in order to focus on the "emerging crisis for the Biden administration."

On Saturday night, Post reporters fanned out on Twitter to tout their breathless story, which Republicans quickly seized upon. "'No end in sight: Inside the Biden administration's failure to contain the border surge," posted Josh Dawsey of the Post. Even more frantic was the tweet from colleague Nick Miroff: "How the Biden admin's poor planning, botched messaging, rush to repudiate Trump and a broken asylum system unleashed the biggest border surge in 20 years, with "no end in sight""

Fact: This is not currently the "biggest border surge in 20 years." It's not even close.

The Post article, as Julian Castro advisor Sawyer Hackett noted, was "pure hot garbage, beginning to end." He added, "Where the fuck was the outrage when Trump deported 13K children last year?"

Designed to portray the White House as poised on the brink of a defining and perhaps fatal failure, the Post article was drenched in politics instead of policy — "Republicans are reveling in the administration's border problems." The piece stressed the issue of immigration could be a loser for Democrats — it could cost them the House in 2022! — and even "overshadow" the administration's success in vaccinating tens of millions of Americans in recent weeks, and passing the wildly popular $1.9 trillion relief package. All of that could be forgotten, the Post stressed, because more people are trying to cross the U.S. border. That's an absurd premise that only adds up if you're trying tell this story from a Republican perspective.

Among the article's more egregious failures was its refusal to mention that the surge in unaccompanied minors at the border began during Trump's last year in office, as well as a surge in adults seeking asylum, the Trump team's refusal to cooperate with the Biden White House transition, and the Republicans' deliberate delay in confirming key cabinet members who most closely work on border issues.

Additionally, the article quoted former Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf attacking the Biden administration. Wolf was a key member of Trump's anti-immigrant border team who worked overtime creating deliberately ineffective, chaotic, and cruel policies, which Democrats are now trying to fix. But Wolf gets to spout off in the Post about how Biden has created a crisis?

Is Biden alone responsible for the current surge? Not according to the Washington Post's own reporting just four months ago: "Attempted crossings have risen as migrants fled the aftermath of powerful hurricanes in Central America and as crime, hunger and political instability continued to ravage numerous countries in Latin America." That's now all been flushed down the memory hole, as the Post amplifies GOP attacks and targets Biden, and Biden alone for the surge.

Also disturbing was the premise from the Post piece, which echoed a Republican talking point: 'There are too many undocumented people crossing the border and in U.S. custody!' Left out of that simplistic and alarmist narrative is the fact that they're in U.S. custody because this Democratic administration has adopted a humane policy of not sending children back to often unlivable conditions. Basically, the Post penalizes Biden for trying to fix Trump's deliberate mess, by wildly hyping the change in border numbers.

"The politicians and the pundits trying to push America back to the "good old days" of 2018, of ripping families apart or condemning them to inhumane refugee camps in Mexico, are shameless," stressed the Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch, after the Postarticle was published.

In terms of border crossing apprehensions, 2021 is currently on pace to match the 2019 surge under Trump. Where was the panic-stricken media coverage about the border "crisis" then, and how the Republican administration had no policy answer? In truth, Trump touted the huge influx in 2019 because he thought it was good politics for wanting to build a mythical wall across America's southern border, which Democrats opposed.

So when a Republican was in the White House, he claimed the huge border surge was bad news for Democrats, and the press largely played along. Two years later, the press is once again playing along with Republicans, claiming a huge border surge is bad news for Democrats.

Longtime Hate Group Amplifies GOP Immigration Rhetoric

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

An anti-immigration group with long-standing ties to white nationalism has spent the last week amplifying harsh Republican rhetoric on immigration, some of which was created by the group itself.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, which goes by the acronym FAIR, has used its social media accounts, which are followed by millions of people, to promote the Republican Party's attacks on Democratic President Joe Biden.

On Wednesday, the group hosted a video stream of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers seeking to push Republican leadership to the right, on its Facebook page as House Republicans held a press event in front of the Capitol on "Biden Border Crisis." FAIR has over 2.3 million followers on Facebook, and another 413,000-plus more on Twitter, where it also promoted the stream.

The event's slogan, which has been on the lips of multiple Republicans for the last few weeks, took hold after FAIR issued a press release on Jan. 21, the day after Biden was sworn into office, accusing Biden of "inducing an immigration and border crisis."

The Biden administration's Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, has said the challenges at the border are largely due to inheriting an immigration system he described as having been "gutted" by the Trump team.

FAIR and its Republican allies have continued their attacks nonetheless.

In just one week on Twitter, FAIR has promoted several immigration-related tweets from Republicans in Congress. They have retweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), and shared Rep. Dan Bishop's (R-NC) comments twice.

Additionally, FAIR tweeted out stories reporting on Republicans pushing FAIR's message on immigration, including remarks from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, also a Republican.

FAIR has also shared immigration tweets from the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in Congress, and the official account for Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee. The tweet from the Judiciary Committee minority was a request to get FAIR's language in the hashtag "#BidenBorderCrisis" to trend on Twitter.

FAIR has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has longstanding ties to white nationalism.

The organization's founder and board member John Tanton wrote in 1986 that " whites see their power and control over their lives declining," and said, "for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority."

Tanton ran the Social Contract Press, a publishing company that republished the anti-immigrant novel The Camp of Saints, which describes "swarthy hordes" of Indian immigrants overrunning France and calls immigrants "monsters." The book is reportedly a favorite of former Trump White House official Stephen Miller.

Additionally, for nearly 10 years FAIR took over $1.2 million in grants from the Pioneer Fund, which advocated for eugenics.

But the group's past has not prevented Republicans from repeatedly hosting representatives from FAIR to give Congressional testimony, and now both find themselves pushing the same anti-immigrant rhetoric once again.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Candidates Must Address Bipartisan Roots Of Immigration Crisis

This article was produced in partnership by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

The Democratic candidates missed the opportunity last week in Nevada—a state with a 30 percent Latino population—to address the root causes of our immigration crisis. They predictably criticized the worst Trump administration immigration policies, such as families separated at the border and chronic uncertainty for undocumented people in the U.S., many of whom arrived decades ago as children. How we treat people at or inside our border certainly deserves attention, but we cannot ignore that many people come to the United States in the first place because our foreign policies—by both Democrats and Republicans—force them to leave their homes in Latin America and elsewhere.

The U.S. displaces its neighbors by displacing their governments. The Obama administration supported the 2009 coup d’état against Honduras’ elected President Manuel Zelaya by U.S.-trained generals. The Obama and then the Trump administrations supported repressive and corrupt governments that followed Zelaya’s ouster, giving a green light to assassinations of dissidents and journalists, government-linked drug trafficking, and spiraling crime. This repression continues to drive tens of thousands to seek asylum in the U.S. each year, regardless of the legal obstacles we erect. More recently, the Trump administration supported last November’s military coup d’état in Bolivia—with little opposition from Democrats—deepening that country’s political crisis.

United States aid and trade policies—often touted as helping our neighbors—also drive people from their homes to our borders. NAFTA opened markets for highly efficient and highly subsidized U.S. farmers by lifting tariffs. Less subsidized Mexican farmers could not compete, and overnight lost their livelihood, forcing many to seek replacement livelihoods in the United States. In Haiti, President Bill Clinton admitted—after he left office—to a “devil’s bargain” on rice tariffs that was “good for some of my farmers in Arkansas,” but destroyed rice farming and generated hunger and malnutrition in Haiti.

The failure of the United States to tackle climate change contributes to a global migration crisis. Catastrophic disasters—growing more frequent and severe —displace more than 20 million people each year. This includes Nicaraguans and Hondurans benefitting from Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States since 1998’s Hurricane Mitch, and hundreds of thousands in Central America’s “Dry Corridor,” now facing their sixth year of drought.

The burden of harmful U.S. foreign policies falls disproportionately on women. In African countries struck by droughts, girls are taken out of school to make the longer walk for their family’s water. Repressive governments we support in Brazil, Honduras, and the Philippines keep women “in their place” with regressive laws, and by committing and permitting attacks against women advocates. Women displaced from their homes and headed to our border face a high risk of sexual assault.

Congress recently demonstrated how bipartisan cooperation can achieve more principled and constructive policies. Last spring, both houses of Congress passed a bill by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) invoking the War Powers Resolution to stop U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen that has displaced 3 million people and killed more than 100,000. President Trump vetoed the bill, but Congress’ War Powers authority, neglected for decades, is now out of the toolbox: on February 13, Senate Republicans and Democrats passed a similar measure to constrain the president’s ability to attack Iran.

The Democratic candidates have moved on to Super Tuesday states, two of which, Texas and California, have 26 million Latinos—more than the total population of any other state. Many Latino voters know from personal and family experience how U.S. policies drive people from their homes. They deserve to know, as do all of us, how candidates will address these root causes of our immigration crisis.

Candidates can start to address the root causes by pledging to respect the choices made by voters in other countries—even if we disagree with them—and ensure that our tax dollars will support economic and social development rather than war.  They can announce trade policies that help farmers farm on both sides of the border, and workers everywhere earn a living wage. They can vow to reduce hurricanes, floods, and drought by putting more solar panels on our roofs and less carbon into our atmosphere. In short, the candidates can show how the United States will help our neighbors live secure, dignified lives in their own communities. Because that is a foreign policy that will ultimately benefit all of us.