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The wrong way to make us safer

President Donald Trump, flanked by House Ways and

President Donald Trump, flanked by House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), left, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2017. Credit: AP

President Donald Trump says securing our nation against illegal immigration, narcotics trafficking and terrorism is a top priority. If that’s so, he needs to back away from the massive cuts to the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration that are reportedly included in his proposed budget.

Trump needs to free up massive amounts of money for border agents and the construction of a wall on the Mexico border. The idea that we can make the nation safer by building a wall down South while softening shore and airport security makes as much sense as tearing down one wall and using the lumber to build another. Such cuts would be dangerous for the nation, and they’d be especially bad for Long Island and New York City.

Trump’s first federal spending plan could include a 14 percent cut to the Coast Guard’s $9.1 billion budget, and an 11 percent cut to the TSA. And there is an 11 percent cut to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a department that’s not perfect but one Long Islanders have relied on in times of crisis. The cuts would decimate Coast Guard patrol and response teams, TSA programs that train pilots to respond to attempted cockpit takeovers, security sweeps in airports and FEMA terrorism and emergency response programs.

These budget leaks let the White House gauge response. Sen. Chuck Schumer said, “Trump’s incompetence would be laughable, except it’s dangerous.” Perhaps it’s worth letting Reps. Peter King and Lee Zeldin, both local members of the Republican majority, know what you think.

Trump promised a wall, but funding that by tearing down other crucial defenses is a dangerous plan. — The editorial board

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