Immigration Advocates Reject Democrats’ Plan to Offer Trump “Smart Wall”

As Democratic leaders in the House reportedly prepare to release a plan to compromise with President Trump by proposing a “smart wall” — that is, increased border security without a literal, physical wall — advocates for immigrants’ rights and civil liberties are skeptical.

“We are very disappointed but not surprised that the Democrats would propose ‘smart wall’ funding — they have included such allocations in previous reform proposals and supported inclusion of these line items in previous budgets,” Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, told Salon by email.

That “heavy investment in technology, Tactaquin continued, “only adds to a permanent infrastructure based on deterrence.” Democrats are avoiding the real challenge, she said, “which is to ensure a fair and rights-based migration and refugee policy and adequate financing to support its implementation.”

If Democrats propose more than $5 billion for a “smart wall,” Tactaquin observed, that would be “$4 billion more than what Trump was even demanding” for such technological upgrades. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-SC, has suggested Democrats may offer Trump the full $5.7 billion he has requested, but not for a literal wall.

“By proposing this support for a smart wall,” Tactaquin said, Democrats “are caving in to the false narrative about ‘uncontrolled’ undocumented migration, the fear narrative about terrorists stealing across the border, and countering illicit drug trafficking.”

Tactaquin’s views were echoed by Neema Singh Guliani, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington office, who focuses on surveillance, privacy and national security issues.

“When people say ‘smart wall,’ it’s sometimes not totally clear what they mean,” Guliani told Salon. The…

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