Castor: Bipartisan Border Security Plan Is ‘Detailed, Smart, Effective’
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor urged an end to the partial government shutdown by sharing stories of the hardships government employees are undergoing by working without pay.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, on Wednesday (Jan. 16) to the partial government shutdown and the adoption of a bipartisan border security plan.
“It is unwarranted and wrong to force our Coast Guard, our Customs and Border, TSA [Transportation Security Administration] officers, air traffic controllers and others to work without getting paid,” Castor said. “I urge the White House and GOP Senators to take up the bills to reopen America’s government along with the detailed plan we have negotiated for modern border security – and do it today.”
Castor urged GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and President Donald Trump to immediately reopen the U.S. government. Castor shared stories from neighbors across the Tampa area who are not receiving paychecks even though they are at work and others impacted by the shutdown.
Castor also laid out a border security plan that was developed by Democrats and Republicans. The plan, she said, is “detailed, smart and effective”:
- New drug, weapons and contraband scanning technology at official ports of entry: installing new technology to eventually scan all commercial and passenger vehicles for illegal drugs and other contraband at our ports of entry. According to both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration, 90 percent of heroin, 88 percent of cocaine, 87 percent of methamphetamine and 80 percent of fentanyl being smuggled into the U.S. are seized at official ports of entry, not areas between the ports of entry where Trump wants to build his border wall.
- Advanced technology to detect unauthorized crossings: cameras, sensors and radar to spot moving people and objects, in any weather or time of day, that are mounted on towers and Border Patrol vehicles and on drones to surveil tough terrain.
- More customs personnel: filling the more than 3,000 vacancies for customs officers who facilitate trade and travel at land, air and sea ports of entry, inspect commercial and passenger vehicles for illegal drugs and other contraband, and ensure that travelers are vetted and screened before entering the U.S.
- Expanded port of entry infrastructure: building up our port of entry infrastructure to improve security and better facilitate trade and travel, ending the long delays for visitors and commercial shipments that cost our country billions in economic activity and thousands of jobs.
But, Castor said, Democrats will not waste billions of taxpayer dollars on an ineffective, expensive wall that can be tunneled under, climbed over or cut through – a wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for.
Castor’s remarks before Congress:
“The House will vote again today to immediately reopen the U.S. government and end President Trump’s government shutdown. It is unwarranted and wrong to force our Coast Guard, our Customs and Border, TSA officers, air traffic controllers and others to work without getting paid. I have heard from many Tampa area government public servants, contractors and their family members who have shared with me how the shutdown is affecting them.
“One of my Tampa neighbors who runs a small business in her retirement years to help support her son with mental disabilities advised me that ‘[As a] tax preparer—I cannot get responses from the IRS that affect [my] clients.’
“Another neighbor who hoped to retire by year’s end is also running out of hope says, ‘We are told there is no more funding after January 18 for the courts, and our colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s office failed to be paid [today], although they stay on the job prosecuting criminals.’
“Another wrote to me after learning about what his own customers are going through: ‘I was touched by [the story of] a young woman who I gave an estimate to. She is engaged to a young man who works for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. As she explained it, he is required to work without being paid, as they try to begin their lives together.’
“Another neighbor is not a government employee, but is still affected by the shutdown: ‘My wife and I are in the process of starting a new business and are dependent on an SBA loan,’ he wrote me. ‘We’ve spent months looking for a location in this very tight commercial real estate market and finally found one. We don’t want to lose the opportunity to secure the location, start our new business and begin hiring employees just because the president makes demands that our representative legislature and our voters do not agree with.’
“Still another: ‘I am extremely upset about this government shutdown. I am a private contractor working on a government contract. I have been unemployed for weeks because of this. I can’t pay my bills.’
“Our TSA officers, customs officers and air traffic controllers at Tampa International Airport are outstanding. TSA Officer Luis Mendoza advised me that ‘I’ve been with TSA for 12 years. I have experienced previous shutdowns and close calls, but I really feel that this one is going to be a tough one to get through. The officers in Tampa are trying to hang in there because as they shared, ‘We do believe in the oath we took to protect the flying public and guard against threats.’ But many are trying to figure out how to pay for gas, child care services, and groceries before rent, bills and medical care.’
“I also spoke with Adm. Karl Schultz who leads the Coast Guard this morning regarding our shared deep concern that our frontline Coast Guard service members are not being paid. In fact, one Coast Guard mother wrote me, ‘I have a son in the Coast Guard in Tampa, Florida, that due to the government shut down will not be paid… I first hand know how this affects an individual and it take(s) several if not a life time to recover from this. These people should not have to suffer for others just trying to make a vote.’
“I urge the White House and GOP Senators to take up the bills to reopen America’s government along with the detailed plan we have negotiated for modern border security – and do it today.
“Otherwise there will be more headlines like the one on the front page of my hometown newspaper that says ‘Federal workers’ new need: food assistance.’ Thanks to Tampa International Airport, Feeding Tampa Bay, United Way Suncoast, USAA, the Crisis Center and others who are supporting our neighbors caught in President Trump’s government shutdown, but this is no substitute for the government of the United States of America to function and provide the services all of our constituents need, for public servants to get paid and to fulfill the oath to protect and defend America.”
Castor represents Florida’s 14th Congressional District, which includes Tampa.
For information about Castor, go to castor.house.gov.
For a video of Castor’s speech, go to youtube.com.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.
Kathy Castor | Government Shutdown | Border Security | Border Wall | Immigration | Politics | Tampabay News
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