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Monday, March 20, 2017

Trump wants to make America safe again by gutting Coast Guard and TSA budgets

At least America will have a border wall.
Despite violent crime being on a downward slope for two decades, President Trump has repeatedly said that one of his goals is to “make America safe again.”

He closed his inauguration speech by vowing, “together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again, and yes, together we will make America great again.”

Trump’s plan to accomplish this involves, in part, the deportation of undocumented immigrants and construction of a border wall to keep them out, despite data showing that immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans

The website, for instance, cites the executive order Trump signed on January 25 “to enhance the public safety of the interior the United States through enforcement of immigration laws” as evidence Trump is delivering on his “making America safe again” promise.

But another, more tangible part of keeping America safe is making sure the country’s airports, airplanes, trains, and ports are secure. 

Yet in order to pay for his $21 billion-plus border wall and the hiring of 5,000 more Customs and Border Protection agents, the Trump administration is planning “to gut the Coast Guard and make deep cuts in airport and rail security,” Politico reports.

According to budget planning documents obtained by Politico, “[t]he Office of Management and Budget is seeking a 14 percent cut to the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget.” Trump’s budget plan also calls for 11 percent cuts in the budgets for the TSA and FEMA. 

Programs on the chopping block include FEMA’s effort to counter violent extremism, terror attack preparation, and the port transit security grant system. The TSA, meanwhile, faces cuts for behavioral detection officers and local law enforcement grants to airports.

Retired Adm. James Loy, a former Coast Guard official who served as deputy homeland security secretary and TSA administrator under President George W. Bush, told Politico that the Trump administration’s plan “is ignorant of what constitutes national security… They simply don’t understand the equation.”

Politico also talked to Stephen Flynn, a retired Coast Guard commander, who pointed out that “as you harden the land border you open up the maritime border… It makes no sense.”

Whether the border wall will even enhance the national security of the U.S. is debatable. Last year, Reuters reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents don’t think a wall is necessary. Instead, they seek better equipment and technology.

The “Making America Safe Again” section of the site also touts Trump’s January 27 executive order “that enhances the protections the American People from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the U.S.” — aka, Trump’s Muslim ban.

In the wake of the January 27 order being blocked by a federal judge on constitutional grounds, Trump insisted that the court’s decision placed the national security of the U.S. in jeopardy.

But last week, the White House undermined Trump’s case about the national security urgency of the Muslim ban, opting to delay the signing of a new one because they wanted to take full advantage of the position news cycle Trump enjoyed following his speech to Congress.