Senate committee urges congressional action on border wall




    Ground views of different border wall prototypes taking shape in 2017 during the Wall Prototype Construction Project near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego. Photo by Mani Albrecht | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

    The Senate Government Committee voted to urge Congress to pass a border wall bill that is virtually dead.

    Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, who chairs the committee, introduced Senate Concurrent Memorial 1001 to urge federal lawmakers to “enact the Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act or similar legislation” at the request of U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, who proposed that bill. The committee on Monday approved the measure on a 4-3 party-line vote.

    Legislative memorials, which have no binding authority, are often called postcards to Congress.

    Biggs’ bill tells the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to “design and install physical barriers, roads, and technology” on the southern border by the end of the year. It would create a special fund to construct the barrier and buy vehicles for Border Patrol. It would also penalize countries from receiving foreign aid by cutting $2,000 per migrant from that country who is apprehended at the border. It would also tax remittances by adding a 5-percent fee to those international transactions.

    The bill was introduced in August, but it hasn’t been heard since and will likely will go nowhere now that Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives.

    All four Republicans in the Senate Government Committee — Farnsworth and Sens. Sonny Borrelli, Vince Leach and Frank Pratt — voted Monday to pass SCM1001 while Democrats Lela Alston, Juan Mendez and Victoria Steele opposed it.

    Farnsworth told the committee he was born in Mexico City and said he “is well aware of the plight” of immigrants from Central America.

    “The issue is the rule of law. We have laws in this country,” he said. “And without a border, we don’t have a country.”

    Leach, R-SaddleBrooke, said walls work, while Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, added, “To do nothing is not an option. To do nothing is a surrender, and surrender is not in this Marine’s creed.”

    Steele, D-Tucson, said she voted in opposition because a border wall will infringe in the territory of the Tohono O’odham Nation, which has 62 miles of international border with Mexico.

    Laura Gómez
    Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for Spanish-language news and feature reporting. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.

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