Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) looks on as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) talks to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) during a press conference on Capitol Hill. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

'Why Are They So Terrible at This?': Democrats Reportedly Plan to Offer Trump Billions for So-Called 'Smart Wall'

The "counteroffer" by House Democratic leaders comes as immigrant rights groups are calling on the party to reject any funding for the president's anti-immigrant agenda

Jake Johnson

As immigrant rights groups pressure Democrats to refuse to offer President Donald Trump any money for his anti-immigrant agenda, House Democratic leaders are reportedly preparing to release a plan on Thursday that would provide billions of dollars in funding for more Border Patrol agents, new drones, and other so-called "border security improvements" if Trump agrees to reopen the government first.

"Now is the time to truly say no to Trump's wall: no to $5 billion, no to $2.1 billion, no to $1.6 billion, no to $1.375 billion. And to reject any additional funding for detention beds, ICE and Border Patrol agents, or other harmful enforcement."
—Immigrant rights coalition

While the plan would not include any funding for Trump's physical wall, the Democratic proposal—which has yet to be finalized—is expected to offer billions of dollars for border surveillance technology that House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) called a "smart wall."

"If you look at all the things that we are proposing, more judges, more border patrol, additional technology, these are the kinds of things that we are going to be putting forth," Clyburn told reporters on Wednesday. "And I think that they can be done using the figure that the president has put on the table, if his $5.7 billion is about border security, then we see ourselves fulfilling that request only doing it with what I like to call using a 'smart wall.'"

"Walls are primitive—what we need to do is have border security," Clyburn added. "Use technology, use scanners, use x-ray equipment."

Progressives were quick to object to the Democrats' proposal.

"Why are they so terrible at this?" asked Vox's Dave Roberts.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, privacy advocates have strongly objected to any such "smart wall"—which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently called a "technological wall"—on the grounds that it would seriously endanger civil liberties.

Fight for the Future declared in a petition that the "smart wall" backed by Democratic leaders "may seem appealing in light of Trump's bizarre plan to build a costly and unnecessary wall, but in reality—increasing border surveillance is a nefarious move that widely threatens the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."

"Drop your plan for a 'technological wall,' or increased surveillance, at the border," the group wrote, directly addressing the Democratic Party. "The U.S. government's dragnet surveillance programs at the border are already out of control and unconstitutional. We demand Congressional review and oversight, not expansion."

According to Politico, Pelosi is planning to unveil House Democrats' new "border security" proposal Thursday night, following a scheduled Senate vote on two competing bills to reopen the government.

While the full details of the Democratic "counteroffer" are not public, the Washington Post reported that the funding offered in the plan is likely to be "higher than the levels Democrats have supported in the past, which have ranged from $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion."

"Some Democrats suggested they would even be willing to meet Trump's request for $5.7 billion—as long as it goes for technology and other improvements, not the physical wall the president is seeking," the Post noted, pointing to remarks by Clyburn and other top Democrats.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Democrats are "prepared to spend a very substantial sum of money because we share the view that our borders need to be secure."

In a letter to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) last month, a coalition of dozens of immigrant rights groups urged Democrats to reject all funding for new Border Patrol agents and any other central components of Trump's anti-immigrant agenda.

"Now is the time to truly say no to Trump's wall: no to $5 billion, no to $2.1 billion, no to $1.6 billion, no to $1.375 billion. And to reject any additional funding for detention beds, ICE and Border Patrol agents, or other harmful enforcement," the groups wrote.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Ilhan Omar Says Plan to Fix Supreme Court Must Include Impeachment Probes

"We need an impeachment investigation into Clarence Thomas' role in the January 6th coup, as well as into Gorsuch, Alito, Barrett, and Kavanaugh's testimony on Roe during their confirmation hearings," said the Minnesota Democrat.

Jake Johnson ·


Right-Wing Justices Should Be Impeached for Lying Under Oath, Says Ocasio-Cortez

"We have a responsibility to protect our democracy," said the New York Democrat. "That includes holding those in power who violate the law accountable."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Infuriating': Biden Rebuked for Continued Opposition to Supreme Court Expansion

"What does Biden 'agree' with doing?" Mehdi Hasan asked. "What does the leader of this country want to do to stop the increasingly fascistic assault on our democratic institutions and basic rights?"

Kenny Stancil ·


'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo