WASHINGTON— Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva led 22 Members of Congress in a letter to President Joe Biden demanding an end to the troop deployment at the Southern Border authorized by former President Donald Trump. Despite the end of the Trump Administration and the national emergency, more than 3,600 soldiers remain deployed at the Southern Border at a large cost to taxpayers. A GAO report released in February found that “DHS anticipates needing at least the current amount of [Defense Department] support for the next three to five years, possibly more.” Furthermore, the GAO report highlights that DOD did not fully evaluate potential costs and effects on readiness before deploying troops, nor did they provide full cost estimates to Congress.
“Trump may be gone, but his harmful policies continue irreparably damaging our border communities and environment,” said Rep. Grijalva. “For many years, border residents have vocally opposed the militarization of their communities. President Biden has an opportunity to finally heed those calls by removing all military personnel and equipment from the border immediately. Failure to do so will further politicize the military and erode the long-lasting norms that prevent them from enforcing domestic law. We owe it to border communities to end this wasteful deployment and instead invest in the long-term well-being of the borderlands region.
The letter was signed by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At-Large), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Ritchie Torres (NY-15), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (Guam-At-Large), and Judy Chu (CA-32).
“The previous administration has thrown the militarization of the southern border region into overdrive, creating a culture of fear and intimidation and border communities and asylum-seekers and circumventing Congress’ intent,” said Vicky Gaubeca, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. “It is time for the Biden-Harris Administration to rethink our borders, and move towards actions and policies that revitalize our region, not further militarize it. That includes removing all military personnel and equipment — including concertina wire — from the southern border.”
“Any ongoing presence of troops at the border should be a matter of profound concern for us all,” said Jonathan Blazer, Director of Border Strategies, ACLU. “It crosses a dangerous line that threatens to normalize military policing of US populations.”
“The militarization of the southern border is a threat to migrants, a danger to local communities, and a shameful display of misplaced priorities,” said Win Without War Advocacy Director Erica Fein. “There is no reason whatsoever to continue a Trump-era policy designed to instill terror in those seeking refuge. We urge President Biden to turn the border into a place of safety and hope, not militarization and fear.”
“Rescinding Trump’s national emergency was a step in the right direction which must be followed through with the appropriate actions by President Biden. By removing troops from our border communities, not only do we ensure that military personnel is reserved for serving their true purpose and call to action, but we can also begin to reshape the narrative that the previous administration falsely created to justify the harm inflicted upon our borderlands. We applaud and stand by Congressman Grijalva’s leadership on this issue and hope that President Biden retracts troops from our communities immediately,” said No Border Wall Laredo, TX Coalition.
“As a faith-based organization, Fellowship Southwest always will stand in solidarity with every effort to validate the God-given dignity and human rights of all people who come to the United States to contribute to our country and the common good,” said Marv Knox, coordinator of Fellowship Southwest, an ecumenical collaborative network of churches who partner to serve those in need along the border. “We strongly believe in the safety of our citizens and in the protection of our country’s sovereignty through a humane border enforcement system. But having a military presence in our southern border is patently erroneous, immoral and contradictory. It does not recognize the history of our nation. It also does not represent the best interests of our fellow citizens or the highest values that embody the soul of our nation of immigrants.”
“The militarization of our borders has always been a deadly practice. Whether it is through new technologies or troops presence, the result is fear in border communities and death for migrants. The continued unnecessary military presence in our border communities translate to a heightened atmosphere of surveillance and danger which contribute to a lack of trust and safety between the community and those who are supposed to protect them. The last administration only exacerbated this problem with increased tensions and fearmongering, in the hopes it would deter migration. It is time to revert these policies and become a welcome refuge for those who seek a better life in the United States, we can start by removing troops from our communities,” said Juliana Mecedo do Nascimento, State/Local Policy Manager at United We Dream.