Local Congressmen provide updates on border issues

Congressmen Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, speak about border issues at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Monday. (J. Edward Moreno | emoreno@themonitor.com)

U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, held a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss potential border wall litigation, immigration and U.S.-Mexico trade.

Cuellar announced last week that he added verbiage to the fiscal year 2019 Democratic border security proposal that would spare sites such as the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, the National Butterfly Center and La Lomita Chapel from border wall construction. Funding for a border wall in those sites was allocated in March through the omnibus spending bill.

We’re live at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce with U.S. Congressmen Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen, who will take questions from the media on legislative priorities, border security, trade and immigration.

Posted by The Monitor on Monday, February 4, 2019

“I cannot guarantee, but I am hoping that we’re successful in stopping it,” Cuellar said.

Gonzalez said restraining orders and other litigation is likely to come this month. Construction equipment for the border wall has already been sent to the Rio Grande Valley, specifically in the areas the congressmen pledged to protect.

“We continue to oppose any kind of construction,” Gonzalez said. “What was appropriated during the Republican controlled government is going to be very difficult to prevent without judicial intervention.”

The president has threatened to declare a national emergency to address the influx of asylum seekers. Both congressmen disagreed with the president’s characterization of a border “crisis,” with Cuellar going as far as saying the president doesn’t truly believe that statement either.

“If he thought there was a crisis, he should have done it,” Cuellar said. “You don’t look at a crisis and say ‘If you don’t give me what I want, I’ll declare an emergency.’ If there is a crisis in your mind then you take action.”

Gonzalez added that “the crisis is not at the border. We have a crisis in three Central American countries.” Through his position on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Gonzalez plans to negotiate with the leaders of those countries and work in congress to secure aid “to bring security to these people and prosperity.”

However, all of those ideas are contingent on the president’s approval prior to the Feb. 15 deadline to file a government spending bill. If they fail to compromise, another government shutdown could be looming.