WASHINGTON: The Republican-controlled US House of Representatives has approved a federal spending bill which among other things includes funds for a wall to be built along the US-Mexico border, a top priority project of the US President Donald Trump.
The USD 827 billion package passed by the House through 235-192 votes has a provision of USD 1.6 billion for the border build, which Trump believes is crucial to prevent illegal immigration and smuggling of drugs inside the United States.
However, the bill needs to be passed by the Senate – where the opposition Democrats are in a large strength – before it can be signed into law by the US President.
The Democratic leadership has been opposing tooth and nail such a move of the Trump Administration.
"It would squander billions of taxpayer dollars on President Trump's immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall. The President said during the campaign, he said, 'I promised a wall. 'No, you promised a wall that Mexico would pay for," said Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, on the floor of the House.
"He (Trump) said it would cost USD4 billion to USD6 billion. The fact is it could cost as much as USD30 or USD40 billion. And he wants a down payment for that wall in this bill. One poison pill," she said.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley described the move to build the border wall as immoral and ineffective.
"A wall along the US-Mexican border will not make the United States safer nor more secure," he said.
"It is a massive waste of taxpayer money and will exacerbate problems with our already broken immigration system.
There is no one more dedicated to our national security or ensuring that the men and women serving in uniform have the resources they need to keep our country safe, but this bill doesn't accomplish that and I cannot support it," Crowley said.
The Democratic National Committee Chair Tom in a statement alleged that Trump's border wall is a massive waste of taxpayer money that will not make US safer.
"Like many of the president's policies, this initiative is rooted in nothing more than prejudice and fear mongering.
"And as with so many of his campaign pledges, he has broken his promise to Americans that they wouldn't pay a dime for this wall,” he said.
The Trump Administration, however, asserted that the country needed border wall.
"We need the border wall. The border wall is one more tool in the toolbox that might prevent some of the things from happening," Tom Homan, the Acting Director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told reporters at a White House news conference.
"That is why what President Trump is asking us to do, that is why what he's proposing for border security makes sense for the law enforcement community. We need this help.
We need these executive orders to make sense of what we do every day," Homan said.
Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the wall would further Trump's discriminatory anti-immigrant agenda and worsen Customs and Border Protection abuses in the 100-mile border zone and for immigrants seeking safety and a better life.