Defund Hate Coalition Reacts to President Trump’s Shutdown Remarks

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Washington, DC — More than two weeks into Trump’s shutdown of the federal government, the president continues to hold Americans hostage to his anti-immigrant agenda. Congress must continue to reject the president’s irrational demands to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to pay for his border wall and the immigration enforcement and detention system that has separated thousands of families, put children in cages, and caused the deaths of migrants who came to the United States seeking safety and freedom.

People fleeing persecution and violence have a right under U.S. law to request protection at our border, and have been doing so for hundreds of years. The only crisis southern border communities now face is the president’s escalating efforts to deny access to these rights, no matter the cost to American communities, the environment, or human lives. Congress must cut funding to Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agencies that bar families from access to humanitarian protection, militarize border communities, and lock up our neighbors and family members.

Members of the Defund Hate coalition issued the following statements:

Sanaa Abrar, advocacy director, United We Dream:

“From his bully pulpit, Trump lied to the public so he could desperately convince us that this shutdown is an actual policy debate. It never has been. The wall is a word that Trump and anti-immigrants in his administration use to drum up racism. On the 17th night of this shutdown, we call on Republicans to stand up to Trump and reopen the government by voting for the same bill they passed in December. We need Democrats to remain strong and continue to stand against the wall and more money for ICE and CBP agents.”

Johana Bencomo, co-chair, Southern Border Communities Coalition:

“What we heard tonight from Trump is more lies, falsehoods and manipulations about what really is going on in our communities. Trump is manufacturing a crisis in one of the safest, most vibrant places in our nation to fulfill a campaign promised based on hate and fear. He is scapegoating immigrants and asylum seekers to justify his deadly and harmful wall, and is blatantly ignoring the real issue: the hyper-militarization of the southern border and the damage it has already caused.”

Mary Small, policy director, Detention Watch Network:

“After recklessly causing the second longest shutdown to date in history, Trump is grasping at straws to further manufacture a crisis to pressure Members of Congress to underwrite his anti-immigrant agenda. The real crisis is ICE and CBP’s overwhelming track records of abuse and death, including most recently, Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe Alonzo-Gomez. The Senate must stand strong and pass the bill that has already cleared the House.”

Richard Morales, policy and program director for LA RED, Faith in Action’s immigrants’ rights campaign:

“The only crises at the southern border are those created by Trump himself, based upon a stack of lies to further public fear and hatred of immigrants. Tonight, he shamefully played again the race card by pitting Latinos and blacks against immigrants. Trump’s actions are dangerously irrational. He separated children from parents; children have died while in immigration custody; he has denied asylum seekers entry into the U.S. as allowed by law; and has now closed critical government agencies and is denying paychecks to 800,000 workers until he gets $5.6 billion for an ineffective wall. Billions of additional dollars are planned to increase mass detentions and deportations. But our communities understand Trump’s immorality and irresponsibility, and we will hold accountable members of Congress who allow these senseless policies to continue.”

Heidi Altman, director of policy, National Immigrant Justice Center:

“The president’s invocation of the word ‘crisis’ to describe what is happening on the border disrespects the lives lost in CBP and ICE custody and the suffering of thousands waiting in Mexico for a now-often-illusory chance to seek safety in the United States. These harms are the true crisis, and they are of the president’s making. The president thinks he can cajole and manipulate Americans and our representatives in Congress into paying for a border wall by invoking this word. But we aren’t fooled. We know that Trump’s rhetoric is fueled by racism and his unending desire to spread fear. The time for accountability is now.”

Kathryn Johnson, policy advocacy coordinator, American Friends Service Committee:

“President Trump’s shutdown is hurting hundreds of thousands of workers and could result in millions of people losing access to crucial government services like housing and food assistance. And spending billions on a cruel and unnecessary border wall redirects resources that should instead be spent on education, infrastructure, and services that actually create safe and healthy communities. It’s crucial that Congress follow the will of the majority of Americans and refuse to spend one more dollar on the wall or militarization of our southern border.”


The #DefundHate campaign, composed of organizations representing directly impacted communities, faith leaders, and civil rights and immigrant rights advocates, is committed to divestment from agencies that tear apart our families and terrorize our communities. For too long, our representatives have said they care about our communities while simultaneously funding aggressive immigration enforcement and deadly immigration jails. They must be held accountable to keep their promises and stand with the immigrant community. We call on our members of Congress to say no and vote against wasting taxpayer dollars on an abusive and deadly immigration enforcement system. We want our tax dollars used to strengthen our families and communities by investing in education, housing, nutrition and health care programs that provide opportunity and increase well-being.