In his quest to build his racist border wall, Trump is seeking to divert disaster funds from places like California and Puerto Rico.
Trump went to the border on Thursday for his big photo-op and softball interview with Fox's Sean Hannity — but even with Hannity feeding him his lines, Trump still couldn't explain what his emergency declaration would be or how it would work.
Apparently, however, Trump has one very clear idea about how he'd pay for the wall under that declaration: Stealing money from areas that have suffered actual disasters, including Puerto Rico and California.
Trump's White House has asked the Army Corps of Engineers, which builds infrastructure both to alleviate the effects of past natural disasters and reduce the risks from future ones, to figure out how to redirect money to the border wall. The money would be taken from a $13.9 billion emergency supplemental bill from February 2018. That bill included $2.4 billion for projects in California to prevent floods and $2.5 billion for reconstruction projects in Puerto Rico.
This isn't the first time that Trump has displayed his disdain for Puerto Rico. His administration's utter refusal to respond to the post-Hurricane Maria humanitarian disaster led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.
Instead of displaying any compassion for the people of the island or shame for his own failures, Trump called his response "an incredible unsung success." He even went on to whine about how he didn't get enough credit for his non-response.
Trump's cruelty even extended after death. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved only 3 percent of the requests for funeral assistance for deaths related to Hurricane Maria.
Trump has also made no secret for his hatred of California.
Even as California reels from the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in that state's history, Trump tweeted earlier this week that he would withhold all FEMA funds from California. This is thanks to his willfully perverse belief that it is a failure of forest management, rather than the effects of climate change, that is causing California's now year-round fire season.
In a way, Trump's behavior has a terrible symmetry.
In 2017, he created a humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico by ignoring the island after Hurricane Maria, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths.
Now, he's created a humanitarian disaster at the border, as people fleeing horrific domestic violence and gang violence are unable to apply for asylum, and children are dying while in the custody of the border patrol.
Trump's solution — to rob money from Puerto Rico in order to build his wall no one wants — will continue to harm Puerto Rico, and will do nothing to stem the harms he's created at the border.
In short, it's precisely what we would expect from Donald Trump.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.