Workers drop pieces of border wall into place in New Mexico. Photo: Jordyn Rozensky, Justin Hamel/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A group of 91 Democratic lawmakers is calling on the Trump administration to halt border wall construction during the coronavirus pandemic.

Driving the news: The lawmakers, led by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), are making their case in letters being sent today to agency heads at the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Justice and Defense.

The big picture: COVID-19 has appeared in immigrant detention centers, denied entry to thousands of migrants, delayed immigrant hearings and reportedly infected nearly 900 DHS employees.

Details: A total of 66 House members and 25 senators signed the letters — including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, six former presidential candidates in the Senate, House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler and three members of "the squad."

  • Signatures include those of several Democrats representing border districts: Reps. Cuellar, Ann Kirkpatrick, Veronica Escobar, and Vicente Gonzalez.
  • Several immigrants rights organizations also endorsed the letters.

What they're saying: Wall construction "defies" CDC social distancing and quarantine policies while money being used on the "ineffective and wasteful border wall" should be invested in fighting the virus, lawmakers wrote.

  • "It's insulting that in the middle of this emergency, instead of having the focus on making sure we got supplies, making sure that we're beating all of this, they're still going with this wall — this campaign promise from the president," Cuellar told Axios.
  • "The last thing we need is to put workers and the surrounding communities at risk when they already lack the health care infrastructure to handle this public health crisis," Heinrich told Axios in a statement.

By the numbers: The Trump administration has allocated $1.375 billion to build roughly 69 miles of border wall in fiscal year 2020, according to CBP's latest border wall data.

  • Since January 2017, the administration has built 158 miles of border wall, mostly replacing dilapidated or outdated barriers with taller, more effective fencing.

Read the letter here.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump says if Biden's elected, "he'll listen to the scientists"Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  4. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  5. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  6. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  7. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Microphones will be muted during parts of Thursday's presidential debate

Photos: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Commission on Presidential Debates adopted new measures on Monday to mute the microphones of President Trump and Joe Biden to allow each candidate two minutes of uninterrupted time per segment during Thursday night's debate.

Why it matters: During September's chaotic debate, Trump interrupted Biden 71 times, while Biden interrupted Trump 22 times.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court denies Pennsylvania GOP request to limit mail-in voting

Protesters outside Supreme Court. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday denied a request from Pennsylvania's Republican Party to shorten the deadlines for mail-in ballots in the state. Thanks to the court's 4-4 deadlock, ballots can be counted for several days after Election Day.

Why it matters: It's a major win for Democrats that could decide the fate of thousands of ballots in a crucial swing state that President Trump won in 2016. The court's decision may signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!