House Dems to lay out border battle demands: No new walls, more security manpower

January 23, 2019

House Democrats are working on a letter to President Trump that will outline their ideas for how to secure the U.S.-Mexico border through additional technology and other measures, after rejecting Mr. Trump’s latest ask on border wall money.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, characterized the proposal as a “starting point.”

“We all want border security - there’s no question about it,” said Mr. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat. “It’s just that some of the things that are being pursued in the name of border security we disagree with.”

The proposal could entail a hardening of U.S. ports of entry, additional scanning technologies to try to stop illicit drug flow, and additional customs and border patrol agents and immigration judges.

“It’s technology, it’s manpower, it’s fortifying the ports of entry along with the judges and some other things,” he said.

“No new structures,” Mr. Thompson said. “The only thing we’re talking about is existing structures - some of them need repair.”

Democrats have maintained the position that they don’t want to seriously negotiate border security as long as the federal government remains closed.

They have rejected Mr. Trump’s recently-announced package that would provide $5.7 billion for a border wall, plus temporary protections for illegal immigrant “Dreamers” and immigrants who have fled war-torn countries.

“We know what border security is and the president’s negotiating with himself,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

Democrats also say they’re already including $1.5 billion in efforts aimed at border security for items like immigration judges and bolstering ports of entry in a package of spending bills they plan to pass this week to try to end the partial government shutdown.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said the letter should not be seen as a “negotiation.”

“The letter is going to articulate what we believe is effective investment to accomplish border security,” he said.

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