WASHINGTON—AFT leaders respond to reports that if President Trump declares a national emergency, he will use funding marked for disaster relief in Puerto Rico, Florida, California, the U.S. Virgin Islands and elsewhere to fund his border wall:
AFT President Randi Weingarten:
“Taking away money that is helping Americans recover from real emergencies in order to fund a political stunt is a new level of depravity from this president. Not only has Trump manufactured a border crisis, which has left millions of Americans without paychecks and critical services through his shutdown, but he now wants to inflict more pain and cruelty on Americans trying to piece their lives back together after disaster. A declaration of emergency will be an abuse of power and an attack on our democracy. What’s more, the funds Trump wants to redeploy would leave millions of people who are still suffering from this administration’s already-inadequate response to hurricanes Maria and Michael and the California wildfires with even less support.
“If President Trump is as concerned with humanitarian crises and our security as he says he is, he should abandon this reckless plan and allow the Army Corps of Engineers to continue its efforts in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, California and elsewhere to help communities recover and to protect our citizens from future threats. We thank congressional Democrats who refuse to give in to the president’s unnecessary wall. Congress should do everything in its power to prevent the administration from diverting this much-needed funding from disaster relief.”
California Federation of Teachers President Joshua Pechthalt:
“It’s hard to be surprised anymore by the ideas put forth by this president. The problem he’s created at the border is now compounded by his ridiculous idea to take funds away from people and communities devastated by California’s wildfires and other disasters. These are real crises, not created. The crisis the president talks about is emanating from the White House, not the border. The American people deserve better.”
Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico President Aida Díaz:
“The news that the Trump administration wants to divert desperately needed money from Puerto Rico to build a wall is deeply upsetting.
“Since Hurricane Maria devastated the island last year, our teachers have worked day and night, often without the support we would expect from the federal government. They’ve cleaned classrooms by hand, supported students who’ve been through trauma, and taught without electricity and air conditioning.
“Today, more than a year after Hurricane Maria, makeshift classrooms that were supposed to be temporary are still filled with kids. There is mold in schools that can’t be fixed because the federal government hasn’t repaired the schools’ roofs yet. And we’ve yet to see new books, technology or materials to replace those that were damaged or destroyed in Hurricane Maria.
“The federal government was never doing enough, but now it’s threatening to take what little has already been allocated to help.”