BISMARCK – The state is trying to throw its weight behind President Donald Trump’s campaign promise by proposing a resolution committing the Sixty-sixth Legislative Assembly to support Trump’s wall.
House Concurrent Resolution 3025 urges Congress and the President to fund construction of a wall and border control impediments along with strengthening the border control infrastructure to ensure compliance with and enforcement of federal immigration laws, the resolution starts.
Although the U.S.-Mexico border is nearly 2,000 miles away, the country’s northern border is a closer threat as the Department of Homeland Security and border control agencies try to halt the bi-directional flow of illicit drugs, according to a 2018 DHS report.
“Transnational criminal organizations are also active along the border and they continually adapt their drug production, smuggling methods, and routes to avoid detection by U.S. and Canadian law enforcement,” the report stated. “Potential terror threats are primarily homegrown violent extremists in Canada who are not included in the U.S. Government’s consolidated terrorist watch list and could therefore enter the United States legally at northern border ports of entry without suspicion.
The state legislature, however, feels it is more important to back a $5.7 billion wall.
The resolution admits North Dakota welcomes all races, religions, and creeds who “immigrate legally to mix and to add to our great American melting pot,” but added a caveat.
“It is the duty and responsibility of the federal government to protect national borders and secure the sovereignty of the United States of America…” the bill states.
Sponsors of the bill also added information reporting that unnamed national security and law enforcement agencies have repeatedly identified the “entire United States border with Mexico as a major national security concern,” and that a 2018 National Border Patrol Council survey of more than 600 agents resulted in 89 percent of those interviewed affirming a “wall system in strategic locations is necessary to securing the border.”
Strengthening the nation’s southern border will also “alleviate the hardship experienced by the federal employees who are furloughed due to the federal government being shut down,” the resolution states.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives of North Dakota, the Senate concurring therein: That the Sixty-sixth Legislative Assembly urges the Congress of the United States and the President to fund construction of a wall and border control impediments along with the strengthening of border control infrastructure to ensure compliance with and enforcement of federal immigration law; and…”
Copies of the resolution, if passed, will be sent to the President of the United States, the Majority and Minority leaders of the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives, and each member of the North Dakota Congressional Delegation.
Republican representatives sponsoring the bill include: Jake G. Blum, from Grand Forks, Jim Grueneich, from Jamestown, Craig Headland, from Montpelier, Jim Kasper, from Fargo, Mike Lefor, from Dickinson, Scott Louser, from Minot, Mike Nathe, from Bismarck, Mark S. Owens, from Grand Forks, Chet Pollert, from Carrington, and Dan Ruby, from Minot.
Senators supporting the bill are: Jessica Unruh, from Beulah, and Rich Wardner, of Dickinson, both Republican.
North Dakota is not the first state to propose a bill to support Trump’s wall. On January 2, the South Dakota State Legislature proposed a similar bill, which was signed by six state senators and nine state representatives. The resolution passed 28 to five in the Senate, according to the Argus Leader.
Former North Dakota U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon called the resolution a waste of time.
“It’s political grandstanding by the North Dakota legislature,” Purdon said. “We need effective border security, not wasting five to ten billion dollars on a wall that is a 17th century solution to a 21st century problem. I would like to see them take a stand on getting this government reopened.”
Purdon’s former colleagues in the Department of Justice will soon be missing two paychecks, he said. Federal agents, TSA agents, prosecutors, and all federal workers who have not been sent home haven’t been paid in 32 days due to Trump shutting down parts of the federal government.
More attention should be placed at home on the country’s northern border with Canada, Purdon said.
In 2018, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered only six suspected terrorists along the nation’s southern border, a fact that contradicts statements by Trump’s Administration reporting nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists were stopped crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the statement that nearly 4,000 suspected terrorists crossed into the United States by way of Mexico, but after fact checking, she was reporting 2017 data, and referred to stops made by the Department of Homeland Security across the globe, primarily at airports.
Senator Tim Mathern, a Democrat from Fargo, said he wrote Governor Doug Burgum about a month ago telling him that the state should send its National Guard down to Mexico and pick up the 5,000 or so people traveling in the caravan headed for the U.S. border.
“We could get them settled, get them all jobs, plus it would be a 25-year project because many of them were babies. We’re doing all these things to try and find people to work here, it’s just fascinating to think that these people would put together such a resolution.
“It’s inhumane, and contrary to the interests of North Dakota,” Mathern said. “We literally need people. Our economy is stagnant because our workforce has plateaued. Someday, I don’t how far these people or the wall will get, but it’s an embarrassment.”
Fisher Industries, in Dickinson, is a company in the running for building Trump’s wall.
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