Washington, D.C.—Congressman Filemon Vela (D-TX), Ranking Member of the Border and Maritime Subcommittee, issued the following statement prior to the Committee on Homeland Security’s markup of H.R. 3548, the so-called Border Security for America Act of 2017:

“Put simply, the legislation under consideration today is an offensive joke and a fiscally irresponsible mess. The bill authorizes $10 billion for the racist border wall and does not even pretend to provide a way to pay for it. Let the record show that the same self-described fiscal conservatives who decry ‘out-of-control’ government spending are proposing legislation that would waste $10 billion on a wall, exposing their rank hypocrisy. It seems like ‘fiscal conservatism’ only applies to programs they don’t like—not to programs that obediently carry out the president’s racist agenda.

And make no mistake, the border wall is racist garbage that embodies the hateful rhetoric of Trump’s campaign. It insults border communities, threatens private landowners, and would devastate the wildlife of the Rio Grande Valley.

That is why I am offering the following amendments to H.R. 3548:

Amendment 1: Defines what a ‘border wall system’ means and asks Members whether they agree with President Trump that the border wall should be a ‘big and beautiful, see-through, concrete, solar-generating, 700 to 900-mile-long wall.’

Amendment 2: Sets up a $20 million legal defense fund for private property owners whose land is threatened by the federal government for the construction of the border wall.

Amendment 3: Holds President Trump to his campaign promises by withholding U.S. funds for the border wall until the Mexican Government agrees to reimburse the United States for all costs associated with construction of the border wall. 

Amendment 4: Requires the Department of Homeland Security to consult with local stakeholders and to report to Congress on its specific construction plans, on eminent domain implication, and on stakeholder feedback prior to construction, installation, or deployment of tactical infrastructure in a specific area or region. 

Amendment 5: Prohibits the Federal government from seizing private property along the border without truly providing just compensation to property owners.

Amendment 6: Requires that before exercising eminent domain, the Department of Homeland Security Secretary certifies that the land seizure is necessary for homeland security and provides evidence that no other alternatives exist.

The majority’s inclusion of the wall shows that this is not a serious proposal. It is time for the majority to quit wasting everyone’s time. I’m always willing to work with them if and when they put forward serious ideas. Unfortunately, today is not that day.”