Republicans Push New $25 Billion Bill to Fund Trump’s Wall – by Tightening Access to Programs Like Food Stamps

 
 
Four Republican Senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, are introducing the WALL Act, a new bill that would authorize $25 billion to fully-fund President Trump's border wall. There are no direct offsets – known as "PAYGO" – in the legislation to pay for a wall many consider both unnecessary and racist. But the bill would attempt to squeeze $25 billion from  immigrant and low-income parents and workers, including those who receive federal benefits like food stamps.

Instead of taking the funds directly from elsewhere in the federal budget, according to a statement from Senator Cruz, the wall would be funded by tightening requirements of government programs for low-income workers. Among them, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Other federal programs, like food stamps, would require recipients to prove citizenship.

Those who cannot prove they meet the new standards, namely, that they are U.S. citizens or legally permitted to receive benefits, would be kicked out of the programs. Others who are eligible but fearful of the new regulations may also neglect to collect them. And some may not learn they need to produce proof.

Cruz says additional funding would come by increasing "the minimum fines on illegal border crossers" and establishing a "minimum penalty for visa overstays."

Senator Cruz provided no proof these federal welfare programs are being abused by non-citizens or ineligible workers, or that increasing fines would net $25 billion.

"Currently only the child needs a SSN, not the parent benefiting from the refundable child tax credit. The WALL Act would require the parent to have a valid work-eligible social security number," Cruz says. "Before 2003, the Social Security Agency did not distinguish between work-eligible and non-work eligible SSNs. Therefore, there are individuals benefiting from the EITC they are not authorized to receive because they are non-work eligible."

Cruz's bill could prevent legal child citizens from being able to access government programs like food stamps.

HuffPost reports the claim that undocumented immigrants are "are stealing benefits from Americans" is "divorced from reality."

But legal immigrants who are eligible for programs like food stamps are refusing to sign up, for fear they will be deported. That means some children are not getting the food they need. The WALL Act feeds those fears, not the children who need help the most.

“I have long called for building a wall as a necessary step in defending our border and stopping the flow of illegal immigration into our country,” Cruz says in his statement. “The overwhelming majority of Texans and Americans want to see the border secured."

But polling makes clear the majority of Americans do not want a border wall.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement announcing the WALL Act, Senator Inhofe took the opportunity to advocate for his bill, the Asylum Abuse Reduction Act. Sen. Inhofe's statement is riddled with falsehoods.

"Currently, migrants who cross the border illegally and declare asylum are released pending credible fear screenings and other legal procedures, but rarely show up for proceedings – never completing the asylum process," he claims.

Inhofe also claims, "most migrants don’t show up for their court date."

Both claims are 100% false.

According to PunditFact, a fact-checking offshoot of PolitiFact, an Obama-era program for asylum seekers that President Trump has since killed, boasted a 100% attendance record at court hearings. It also had a 99% show rate of check-ins and appointments with ICE.

"Around 60-75 percent of non-detained migrants have attended their immigration court proceedings, according to Justice Department data from the last five available years," PunditFact reports, expanding their review to all migrants. "Some limited data suggests rates may be higher for asylum-seekers."

Inhofe's bill would also turn local police departments and court systems into arms of ICE, forcing them to issue "a criminal bench warrant for immigrants that have failed to appear for immigration court."

Legally, that's at best problematic, and possibly unconstitutional.

The other two GOP Senators introducing the bill are Mike Rounds of South Dakota and John Kennedy of Louisiana.

President Trump for over a year promised voters Mexico would pay for the wall. He then said it would be paid for by some sort of tariff system, and ultimately insisted U.S. taxpayers fund it so he could keep his campaign promise.

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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