The Trump Administration has developed an immigration-related agenda that rejects long held American values, our country’s commitment to due process, and what our economy needs to keep America working. His first Executive Orders related to immigration have one important theme in common: to be implemented, they require money. Our system of government requires that the President ask for funding from Congress.
Yes, the President has a Republican majority in the House and Senate right now, so maybe he believes getting that money will be a cinch. It won’t be. The President’s asks: of building a border wall, increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to build a deportation force, and increasing the number of beds in detention facilities that benefit private prison companies, are unnecessary and will require supplemental funding that carries a price tag of $3 billion.
The President needs more than a simple majority to get this budget request through the Senate – he needs 60 votes. Even assuming all 52 Republicans vote in favor of the plan, Trump will still need 8 Democrats to get on board.
So, here’s my thought. Let’s reach out to EVERY congressional office and explain why giving money to fund policies like border walls and deportation forces are bad for our country. Let’s make our voices heard through in-district visits, calls, emails, tweets, and other outreach to let them know we think these plans are a bad idea and urge them to vote no. We need to remind each elected official that all of their districts will suffer a severe economic downturn with these misguided priorities. For example, is the fact that attacks on immigrants will shut down already labor-hungry farms just a farm-belt problem? No. When food prices rise and the average family cannot find or afford even staple food items, it is every district’s problem. This Administration believes that we live in a vacuum and fails to see the cause and effect of their proposed actions.
Sure, holding the vote to 52 in favor will be enough to make sure this plan dies with a whimper in the Senate, and that would be great. But better yet, if we work together, educate, and share information, we can move the needle so that instead of a whimper, Congress roars back with a message loud and clear: these plans are not going to pass on their watch. We can be a strong America and a safe America without fearmongering politics and isolationist policies. America has always been and will always be the shining example of democracy and justice because of her people and not simply because of her military might. Bigger walls, more private prisons and deporting mothers and fathers will not make us safer as a nation. The American people working together for a better economy, with the help of a functioning 21st century immigration system, will create a better America. A responsible administration working with and not against our southern neighbors to create stability, economic opportunity, and safety in these countries will result in safety in our own streets and neighborhoods without the need for a $15-25 billion dollar wall and expensive private prisons.
How do you make the case? One way is to show them the beneficial impact that immigrants have on individual communities. New American Economy released a new tool, “Map the Impact,” that lets you drill down to the district level and show Congressional members what immigrants contribute. Combine that with an AILA member’s expertise in immigration law and a client example or two (family, business, asylum, etc.) and you’ve got a winning argument.
Show your senators and representatives why it matters with in-district/in-state meetings, emails, calls, tweets, and blog posts, or come to NDA on April 6 to share your insights on Capitol Hill. Tell them in opinion pieces and letters to the editor that America needs immigrants of all kinds. Get your voice out there by calling radio shows, emailing reporters, and sharing information with your community, empowering them to also push their representatives and senators to block this bad policy by blocking the money. Congress runs on the next election cycle. If you can push the needle far enough so that a majority of constituents are against the funding of these initiatives, your senator or representative will vote against it.
Since Congress, and ‘we the people’ have the power of the purse, let’s block the money, block the wall and change the conversation.
Written by Matt Maiona, Member, AILA Media Advocacy Committee