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KSAT: ‘Un-American': Texas officials unload over diversion of millions from Camp Bullis for border wall

September 5, 2019

SAN ANTONIO - Elected officials and political candidates in the San Antonio area are criticizing the federal government's decision to divert billions in funds for military projects around the world, including in San Antonio, to build segments of a border wall.

The Pentagon will cut funding from military projects like schools, target ranges and maintenance facilities to pay for the construction of 175 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, diverting $3.6 billion to President Donald Trump's long-promised barrier.

In San Antonio, that means Camp Bullis — a training facility used by members of the Army, Air Force and Navy in northwest Bexar County — will miss out on a new dining facility. The federal diversion of funds appropriates the $18.5 million allocated for the dining project to border wall construction.

"President Trump raids military dollars to waste on an unnecessary wall that he falsely claimed Mexico would pay for. This is just more of his dangerous, un-American abuse of presidential power—overriding Congress and the people, rejecting true security needs," said Congressman Lloyd Dogget, D-San Antonio. "Always taking from the deserving to fund the futile."

Camp Bullis' dining facility is one of two Texas projects being sidelined; the other is new roads at Fort Bliss.

"I am deeply disappointed to see that funding for construction at essential military installations is being diverted to pay for an unnecessary and misguided border wall," Mayor Ron Nirenberg told the Express-News. "The president's overheated approach to immigration and the border is counterproductive and this decision could have an adverse impact on the security of our nation."

"We must find a bipartisan solution to secure our border and solve the root causes of illegal immigration," Congressman Will Hurd, R-San Antonio, told the newspaper. "But we should not take away funds intended to help our troops in order to make this happen."

"Remember that wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for? Trump is now raiding funding for Joint Base San Antonio to pay for it," said former state Senator Wendy Davis, who is running in Texas' Congressional District 21. "And the men and women based in the area will pay an even steeper price."

Projects in 23 states, 19 countries and three U.S. territories would be stalled or killed by the plan, though just $1.1 billion in cuts would strike the continental U.S., according to a list released Wednesday by the Pentagon. Almost $700 million would come from projects in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico, with another $1.8 billion coming from projects on overseas bases.

The government will spend the military housing money on 11 wall projects in California, Arizona and Texas, the administration said in a filing Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The most expensive is for 52 miles (84 kilometers) in Laredo, Texas, at a cost of $1.27 billion. Other segments are planned for El Paso.

"The wall is being built. It's going up rapidly," Trump said Wednesday. "And we think by the end of next year, which will be sometime right after the election actually, but we think we're going to have close to 500 miles of wall, which will be complete."

New stretches of fencing are sure to spark legal battles with angry landowners and environmentalists. The Pentagon plan also fuels the persistent controversy between the Trump administration and Congress over immigration policies and the funding of the border wall.

"It doesn't take any input from the local communities. It will take away from the private property rights," said Congressman Henry Cuellar, D-Texas. "We are going to do everything we can to stop the president."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.