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Monday, January 07, 2019

Roe talks the border wall
Republican US Representative Phil Roe, of the First District, on Friday went on the record regarding the partial shutdown of the federal government, because of a lack of federal funding. The argument over funding for a southern border wall means most of the employees of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park(GSMNP), along with other federal workers are off the job. They are not receiving a paycheck, because there is no money. Currently 800,000 federal government workers, about 25 percent of all federal workers, are not getting paid. In a weekend development, Friends of the Smokies Association announced it will pay the salaries of five Park employees to re-open restroom facilities after human feces were found near the bathrooms at Newfound Gap and Cades Cove. Jim Hart, president of Friends of the Smokies said an estimated $16,000 will be used to pay the salaries for several weeks. The money will come from the $3 million the Association raises each year to benefit the Park. President Donald Trump originally called for a wall on the southern border at an estimated cost of about $23 billion. More recently however he has demanded a budget with $5.7 billion earmarked for the project. Roe was asked why a wall is the major sticking point, rather than looking at other forms of protecting the border. "What we are talking about is not just a border wall, it is all border security," said Roe, pointing out that he recently visited the southern border. He says he was told by customs and border personnel that they need beefed up security. " There are other things; ground sensors, drones, infrared and other sensors to identify people," he said. Roe pointed out that during the first seven months of 2017, 231 bodies were found on the southern border, and he is concerned that undocumented immigrants could introduce Ebola or another serious communicable disease into the U.S. The lawmaker was reminded however that President Trump is not calling for increased technology for border security but is insisting on a wall. "He has said alot of things," admitted the lawmaker. "He wants a barrier and it can be a fence. There are places along there that have geography that is so tough. But I can tell you a fence, a barrier will work. It won't stop everybody but it is a piece of a very complicated puzzle." Roe said in October and November, a total of nearly 103,000 people were apprehended as they tried to cross into the United States. The American Farm Bureau and the US Chamber of Commerce are calling for a more workable US immigration policy, and Roe says he has supported such legislation. "If you look at other countries such as England and Canada, they have merit-based immigration. We wanted to stop the chain migration where people bring along a large number of family members. We do need agriculture workers. There is a need right now, and it needs to be a quick and easy way that they can work and then go back to their country of origin." Roe says Democrats didn't support the legislation he voted for because it included money for enhanced border security. Asked if he had anything to say to those federal workers who currently are not getting paid, the lawmaker said, "everybody will be paid retroactively when the shutdown is over. I haven't seen much accomplished during a shutdown, it's a means to an end and I hope it ends quickly." Democrats are opposing the funding requested by President Trump, calling the wall "immoral, ineffective and medieval." They back other border security measures, including beefed-up technology surveillance. A legislative package sponsored by Democrats in the House and passed last week, includes $1.3 billion for border fencing and $300 million for other border security items such as technology and cameras. A December survey found that 56 percent of Americans oppose the construction of a wall, and only 35 percent of those surveyed in the Reuters/Ipsos poll supported including money for a wall in a federal spending bill.


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Monday, March 25, 2019

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