Rudy for Congress statement on Southern border wall construction and blasting, bulldozing of tribal sacred sites

Pictured: Rudy Soto, Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Member, Democratic Candidate for Idaho's 1st Congressional District.(Photo: Rudy for Congress)

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Soto says President Trump is using emergency powers to implement a policy priority he can't persuade the public or Congress to support

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Rudy for Congress

I am the son of a Mexican immigrant who gained permanent residency under the Reagan Administration, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, as well as an Army National Guard veteran who was deployed to support Customs and Border Protection at the US Mexico Border in 2014 when the U.S. experienced an influx of migrants from Central America fleeing violence and oppression.

I abhor the news that has come to light regarding the blasting and bull dozing of tribal burial and sacred sites in the southern border region for the building of a wall with $1.5 billion in equipment funds stolen from National Guard and Reserve units. Current border wall construction on public lands, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona, has unearthed ancient human remains of the Tohono O'odham Nation. The Trump Administration has moved forward with destroying these burial grounds and sacred sites with absolutely no government-to-government consultation with the Nation. 

Governor Brad Little has recently announced that 4,000 Idaho Army National Guard soldiers are joining 20,000 U.S. troops from around the country for a deployment to Germany this year as part of a large-scale exercise. This is one of our state and country’s biggest mobilizations in 25 years. House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) issued a statement noting that taking funding away from the National Guard amounts to “robbing every state and territory of critical funds specifically added by Congress to address dual-purpose equipment shortfalls - such as fire-fighting, engineering, and communications equipment - to support local authorities for public safety and natural disaster response.” This reprogramming is indeed robbing Idaho’s Army National Guard troops of the resources they need. 

I also agree with Republican House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mac Thornberry’s (R-TX) statement that reprogramming of these critical resources is contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority and his urge for Congress to take action. The Constitution clearly dictates, Congress alone has the responsibility to “raise and support Armies,” and “to provide and maintain a Navy.” The Administration’s diversion of Department of Defense funding is a clear violation of the separation of powers within the Constitution. 

In February 2019, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to secure funding that Congress had specifically denied for the construction of a wall along the southern border. Immigration across the southwest border is an important challenge we must continue to address and Congress has already provided the Department of Homeland Security the power to take action that is necessary to secure the border with fencing and patrol. Furthermore, apprehensions at the border have dropped 75% since last May due to increased enforcement in Mexico and at the southern border. 

The President is using emergency powers to implement a policy priority he can't persuade the public or Congress to support. Idaho had a leader with great foresight for what we are currently facing. During the aftermath of the abuses by the executive branch during Watergate, U.S. Sen. Frank Church, an Idaho Democrat, and U.S. Sen. Charles Mathias, a Maryland Republican, co-led the creation of the National Emergencies Act (NEA), which Congress passed in 1976. 

The National Emergencies Act’s purpose was to ensure that proper safeguards are in place to allow for congressional review when the president has declared an emergency. Congress should curb the authority of the President to govern by manufactured emergency proclamation. Congress should stop the stealing of bi-partisan approved funding for our brave Idaho National Guard soldiers in order to destroy sacred tribal burial sites. 

The people of Idaho’s 1st District deserve a U.S. Representative that will honor the Constitution, support our troops, uphold our treaty and trust obligations to tribes, and promote common decency. As your congressman, I will join bipartisan efforts to terminate the national emergency declaration and end the misappropriation of funds. As Idahoans and Americans, we are better than this. 

About Rudy Soto

Born and raised in Nampa, Idaho, Soto is a member of the Shoshone Bannock Tribe and the son of a Mexican immigrant. He was the first person in his family to graduate from college. Rudy proudly served as a soldier in the U.S. Army National Guard and continued his life in public service as a congressional staffer in Washington, D.C. From Capitol Hill, he became the legislative director for the National Indian Gaming Association. Rudy is ready to bring his passion for public service to the United States House of Representatives.

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(Image: Rudy for Congress)
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