League of Women Voters Calls on Congress to Defund Hate
The League joined nearly 300 organizations calling on members of Congress to reduce funding for detentions and deportations and provide zero funding for an unnecessary border wall.
June 18, 2018
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Charles Schumer
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Re: FY 2019 DHS Appropriations Bills Urging reduction in funding for detentions, border wall and deportations
Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Leader Pelosi:
We, call on you and all Members of Congress to oppose any actions that facilitate the Department of Homeland Security’s mass detention and deportation, especially of people of color, construction of a harmful border wall, or further border militarization. Specifically, we urge you to significantly cut funds for immigration detention and enforcement within the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) budgets whether funded through the appropriations process or other legislative vehicles.
This administration has unleashed a further militarized immigration force, set on tearing apart families and utilizing dangerous rhetoric to justify its attacks on immigrants. The nation is watching in horror as DHS agents now routinely tear children from their parents’ arms, sending parents to be prosecuted and removed from the U.S. while their children suffer unimaginable anguish and fear.1 DHS’s intentional infliction of trauma on families is nothing short of state-sponsored terror2 and is diametrically opposed to our moral and legal obligations to protect people from being forcibly returned to harm.
DHS’s cruel tactics have resulted in countless tragedies including three that have recently gained national attention. On May 23, Claudia Patricia Gómez González , a 20-year-old Guatemalan woman traveling to the United States to continue her education and reunite with her loved one, was shot in the head and murdered by a Border Patrol agent at the U.S.-Mexico border, one of over 70 individuals who have died at the hands of border agents since 2010.3 Just two days later, Roxsana Hernández, a 33-year-old transgender Honduran woman, died while in ICE custody due to complications from pneumonia. Roxsana was one of many asylum-seekers from Central America who fled violence and persecution of transgender community members with a caravan of immigrants last month.4 On May 27, Prince Gbohoutou, a 26-year-old asylum seeker from the Central African Republic who is also the husband of a United States citizen, was abused by ICE agents attempting to force him onto a plane to deport him despite his insistence that he would be killed, without any notification to his wife or attorney.5
Families belong together. A faithful approach upholds family unity and does not prolong family separation. Yet in these tragedies, we see the dehumanizing rhetoric of this administration in action. We know this administration intends to engage in repeated targeting of immigrants and people of color via agencies like ICE and CBP. In order to build these forces, the President has requested over $25.5 billion for ICE and CBP; further bloating a fiscally and morally6 irresponsible agency, ICE and CBP’s budgets are already more than what the United States spends on all other law enforcement agencies combined.
In fiscal year 2017, ICE incarcerated a daily average of 38,106 people,7 and now the President is requesting that detention facilities be expanded to hold 52,000 individuals per day for fiscal year 2019.8 Deaths of immigrants in detention reached their highest total since 2009 last year.9 Meanwhile, the administration has expanded the detention of pregnant women,10 a cruel and inhumane move that puts both women and children at higher risk of health complications and negative physical and mental effects.11 The administration has already demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to address instances of physical and sexual abuse, deaths, and inadequate access to health care in custody. As the administration seeks to significantly increase the number of people held in jail-like, poor conditions, Congress must reject the President’s request and cut funding for detention.
Furthermore, the Trump administration has demanded increased funding for border militarization, including $25 billion for more border wall constructions at the U.S.-Mexico border, that border communities and over 60 percent of Americans do not want.12 The past two decades have already seen unprecedented levels of spending on harmful border enforcement. This militarization of the border region, including border walls and other enforcement efforts, has damaged the environment, cut off U.S. citizens from their own private lands, risked the survival of endangered species, caused life-threatening flooding, interfered with tribal sovereignty, and pushed individuals into crossing in riskier areas, causing thousands of migrant deaths.13
With apprehension levels at the southern border continuing a decades-long downward trend,14 despite seasonal fluctuations, and many families presenting at ports of entry seeking protection, there is no justification for additional funding for more border agents and more miles of border wall. Instead, resources should focus on the real needs of border communities, including strengthened oversight and accountability to ensure that CBP and ICE agents adhere to the law and are held accountable for civil rights abuses and corruption.
As immigrants, people of color, and other vulnerable populations lose critical access to protections, whether as a result of this administration’s unfair rescinding of programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or the implementation of policy that tears families seeking safety apart, Congress must take action. Congress should push for permanent, real solutions that keep families together, while decreasing funding for the very forces that target these communities whether through the appropriations process or other legislative vehicles. The undersigned organizations are united in fighting for permanent solutions for immigrant and border communities that do not harm our families and loved ones or undercut other community members. We call on you and all Members of Congress to demand decreased funds for enforcement, border militarization, detentions, and deportations carried out by ICE and CBP.
Gun Safety - A League Priority
On May 18, 2018, the League of Women Voters of Washington Board of Directors voted to endorse and support Initiative 1639. Be on the outlook for activites to help put I-1639 on the fall ballot.
- a 21-year age limit to purchase semi-automatic firearms
- stricter background checks for purchasingy assault-style weapons,, and
- penatlies for those who do not adequately lock up their guns.
The League is working with the Alliance for Gun Responsiblites on this initiative. To reach their website, click here. The initiative does not yet have a "title" and will appear there as soon as it gets one.
This graphic produced by LWVUS demonstrates the importance of Gun Savety League-wide.
LWVWA Endorses I-1600, Universal Health Care in Washington State
On March 16 the LWVWA board endorsed I-1600, the initiative that would require the establishment of a comprehensive state program to pay for health care for all Washington residents. If approved, coverage would be effective November 2019, funded by premiums and taxes on employers, individual income, and capital gains.
As of May 15th, 42,026 signatures have been turned in. With 260,000 valid signatures needed by July 6th there will be much focus on big summer events that are on the horizon.
The Board of LWVWA has voted to endorse Initiative 1631, the "Protect Washington Act." This measure would charge pollution fees on sources of the greenhouse gas pollutant carbon dioxide, and use the revenue to reduce pollution, promote renewable energy, and address climate change impacts, with the oversight of a public board. There is more information about this initiative on our ISSUES page
HOW WE WORK
On Feb 17, 2018, League members gathered for an annual “Program Planning” meeting. They reviewed both National and Local League positions, went through a structured process to come up with recommendations for changes to both. A summary table of results is available here.
At the Thurston League Annual Meeting in May 2018, the membership adopted a two-year study designed to update the Thurston County Water Realities in Relation to Planned Development, 2008. The 2008 study may be seen here. More details about the update are provided on the ISSUES page of this website.