Newhouse: No to state of emergency for border wall

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald Rep. Dan Newhouse, right, with Peny Archer (center), operations manager of the Moses Lake Food Bank, and Scott Kilpatrick, the food bank’s financial manager.

MOSES LAKE — President Donald Trump should not declare a state of emergency in order to find money to build a wall along the border with Mexico, according to Fourth District Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima.

Newhouse, speaking to the Moses Lake Kiwanis Club on Monday, said he is very concerned about the precedent such a move might set for future presidents after Trump.

“He shouldn’t do that. Congress is the body which has the power to appropriate money,” Newhouse said. “That’s a dangerous path to take. Follow the Constitution and allow for the duties of the separate branches of government.”

Newhouse was in Moses Lake on Monday to speak to the Kiwanis and tour the Moses Lake Food Bank.

According to Newhouse, the solution to the 35-day government shutdown gave Congress three weeks to craft a compromise between President Trump’s desire for $5.7 billion to begin construction on a border wall and the refusal of the House Democrats, led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to appropriate anything for the wall.

“Can we find common ground to enhance our border security while living up to the morals of our country?” Newhouse said. “I’m optimistic, but the rhetoric continues to be strong.”

Newhouse said he has visited the border and talked with Border Patrol agents who work along a stretch of the frontier between the United States and Mexico, and that “they need some help.” A physical barrier between the U.S. and Mexico is “one tool,” he said.

“We’re not talking about a cement structure from the Pacific (Ocean) to the Gulf of Mexico, but areas where we need enhanced security,” Newhouse said. “Other things can be done, physical barriers near ports of entry, but we’re kind of stuck right now.”

“There’s room to negotiate, to come up with a compromise,” Newhouse added. “I hope we can.”

Given how dependent U.S. agriculture is on migrant labor, Newhouse said there should be a legal way for farm workers to come work temporarily in the United States but keep drugs and terrorists from illegally coming across the border.

Newhouse also said civility and a sense of common purpose have increasingly disappeared in an environment where the focus is what divides us rather than what unites us.

“We’re all Americans, all in this together,” he said. “We’ve set the table for not getting a whole lot done (in Washington, D.C.). It’s a bigger challenge than in the past.”

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