WASHINGTON – Border region Democrats in the U.S. House sent a letter to congressional appropriators Friday opposing funding for border wall construction being advanced by President Donald Trump.


"Making American taxpayers pay $1.6 billion for a portion of the wall is asinine," said Texas U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville, a co-chair of the House Border Caucus. "I understand Republicans want to give President Trump one win due to his failed six months in office, but this is just irresponsible. The border wall will rip our community apart, stomp on landowners' rights, and on the wildlife of the Rio Grande Valley, including the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge."


The money has been tucked in to a 2018 Homeland Security funding bill which is expected to come before the House next week before lawmakers leave for their summer recess.


Co-signers of the opposition letter include Texas Reps. Joaquin Castro, Gene Green, Vicente Gonzalez, Henry Cuellar, Marc Veasey and Beto O'Rourke, who is running against Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz next year.




Gonzalez also highlighted concerns about the Santa Ana refuge. 

"I am adamantly opposed to the construction of a wall or additional fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, especially because it could harm South Texas' wildlife and tourism industry," Gonzalez said. "The wall would also be expensive and a poor use of taxpayer money. I call on the Department of Homeland Security to share more details with, and seek greater input from, the entire South Texas Delegation."

Democrats were able to block major funding for the wall for the current year's appropriations, though the Trump administration continues to analyze prototypes.

Meanwhile Trump has continued to press for his signature campaign promise of building a border wall and making Mexico pay for it, casting it as a matter of public safety and national sovereignty.


Border lawmakers remain vocally opposed.

"While the false narrative of a violent and insecure border region has long been used to justify legislation that has negative economic and civil rights impacts on border communities, the southern border is not a war zone," they wrote. "In fact, communities along the southern border are some of the safest in the United States.




Vela has been particularly outspoken, telling candidate Donald Trump in an open letter last year, "you're a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass."