10.02.18

Menendez, Leahy Blast Pompeo for Trying to Pay Mexico to Deport Migrants with State Dept. Funds

Missive comes after Trump administration announced it would ignore Congressional objections and provide Mexico with $20 Million to pay for plane and bus fares to deport up to 17,000 people

Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tuesday sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing their deep opposition to the Trump Administration’s decision to divert $20 million dollars allocated for foreign assistance to advance its anti-immigration agenda by paying for the deportation of up to 17,000 migrants from Mexico to third countries.

“The decision redirects scarce departmental resources needed to address critical humanitarian crises, support democracy and the rule of law, and address development needs that are important to U.S. national security and prosperity, to support a short-sighted approach to the migrant problem that will likely fail to achieve even its own ostensible goals while potentially running afoul of international law,” wrote Menendez and Leahy.

The proposal, which was publicly rejected by the Government of Mexico, seeks to provide millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to Mexico to pay for plane and bus fare deportations for thousands of immigrants, many of which are trying to reach the United States via Mexico.

In asking for a reconsideration, the senators raised additional concerns regarding the manner in which Secretary Pompeo decided to upend decades of practice where the Chair and Ranking Members of Congressional committees of jurisdiction have the ability to intervene and delay such transfers to exercise effective oversight and prevent misuse of congressionally allocated funds.

“You have decided to act contrary to years of practice and precedent, and in a manner that threatens to upend long-standing norms of comity between the Department of State and its oversight committees in Congress,” added the senators, who had placed an informal hold on the proposed transfer when it was first notified to Congress last month.  “Without further clarification and appropriate action by you to resolve this matter, the decision you have made will leave us with no alternative but to consider all of our legislative and oversight options to assure that Congress is able to fulfill its constitutionally-mandated responsibilities.”

A copy of their letter can be found HERE and below.

 

Dear Mr. Secretary: 

We write to express our profound disappointment with your decision to obligate and transfer State Department funds to the Department of Homeland Security to pay for the deportation of up to 17,000 migrants from Mexico to third countries, despite multiple congressional objections.

We find this use of FY 2017 funds to be unnecessary, strategically ill-advised, and contrary to long established practice. We have seen the Government of Mexico’s September 13th statement that it has not agreed to carry out the Trump Administration’s proposed deportation program, and we suspect that President-elect Lopez Obrador is unlikely to be more amenable to cooperating with the United States on this initiative.  We were also troubled by the late submission of, and lack of clarity and specificity in, the congressional notification of the proposed transfer, which was submitted without prior consultation despite the unprecedented nature of the proposal, and the State Department’s inability to answer basic factual questions about the notification during meetings with our staff.

The decision redirects scarce departmental resources needed to address critical humanitarian crises, support democracy and the rule of law, and address development needs that are important to U.S. national security and prosperity, to support a short-sighted approach to the migrant problem that will likely fail to achieve even its own ostensible goals while potentially running afoul of international law.

In addition to our concerns regarding the substance of the proposed transfer, we are deeply troubled that in obligating these funds without first resolving congressional objections you have decided to act contrary to years of practice and precedent, and in a manner that threatens to upend long-standing norms of comity between the Department of State and its oversight committees in Congress. Although these practices can, in rare instances, create friction between the executive and the legislative branches, they have served both branches of government well for decades under Republican and Democratic control, resulting in more effective outcomes for U.S. foreign policy. 

Without further clarification and appropriate action by you to resolve this matter, the decision you have made will leave us with no alternative but to consider all of our legislative and oversight options to assure that Congress is able to fulfill its constitutionally-mandated responsibilities.

We look forward to hearing from you without delay, and to finding common ground on a way forward.

Sincerely,

 

 

ROBERT MENENDEZ                                              PATRICK LEAHY

Ranking Member                                                        Vice Chairman

Committee on Foreign Relations                                Committee on Appropriations

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