Tester, Colleagues to Homeland Security Chief: Why is Border Wall Construction Continuing During Global Pandemic?

“Americans deserve to understand any potential impact a border wall might serve in fighting the coronavirus, if any” Nearly 4,500 Department of Homeland Security employees already quarantined or infected with COVID-19

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, joined by a number of his colleagues on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, today asked Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to justify the Trump Administration’s continued construction of the taxpayer-funded border wall with Mexico during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Nearly 4,500 Department of Homeland Security employees are already quarantined or infected with COVID-19. Recent news reports indicate that construction workers employed to build President Trump’s wall are passing through small towns despite stay-at-home orders intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus—with residents fearing workers may be spreading the disease through their communities.

“The Administration’s pursuit of border wall construction during a global pandemic puts workers and communities at risk, and possibly violates state and local public health guidance to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” the Senators wrote. “With nearly 4,500 federal employees either quarantined or infected with the Coronavirus in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alone, this is a real and evolving concern. Americans deserve to understand any potential impact a border wall might serve in fighting the coronavirus, if any.”

The Senators pressed Secretary Wolf for the Department’s Border Security Improvement Plan that was due to Congress eight months ago. A total of $15.2 billion of American taxpayer dollars, including $10.2 billion raided from the U.S. military, is being used to build the wall without that comprehensive plan.

The Senators’ letter continues: “We are growing increasingly impatient with the continued delay in producing the [Border Security Improvement Plan], particularly when we read nearly daily news accounts detailing the President’s sheer obsession with the border wall completion and the eagerness to complete the wall despite the pandemic. The rapid construction of the border wall while so many Americans are suffering is unnerving, and may be dangerous for workers and communities alike. We have a duty to ensure that American taxpayers have their hard earned dollars working wisely.”

Tester has repeatedly raised concerns over the Trump Administration’s raiding of billions of taxpayer dollars from critical national and homeland security readiness program, including FEMA’s budget and the Montana Air National Guard for the border wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for.

Full text of the Senators’ letter HERE.