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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Trump loves wall more than country

By Monique Merrill

The government is shut down. It has been shut down since Dec. 22. It has been shut down because President Donald Trump is demanding more than $5 billion to fund the construction of a wall on the border between U.S. and Mexico.

Yes, all because of a wall.

Here’s how this happened: the budgets for many federal agencies operate on annual approvals. The deadline to extend funding through 2019 was on Dec. 21. That is when Trump, in an effort to leverage the operation of the U.S. government to force payment for his wall, let the budgets expire. Now we are in a partial shutdown until a resolution can be met.

This has affected around 800,000 federal employees. About half are furloughed without pay, and the others are working without pay, including members of the Coast Guard. Many agencies within the government are feeling the effects — the TSA, the EPA, the FDA, the FBI and the IRS, to name a few. Put any three letters together and chances are it’s an agency that’s been affected.

But don’t worry, the man has a plan — take it from his tweet on Saturday, Jan. 12: “I do have a plan on the Shutdown. But to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised safety and security for the American people. Part of that promise was a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!”

Elections do have consequences. That much has been made clear now that we’re halfway through this four-year fever dream of a presidency.

Recall that during his campaign, much of Trump’s wall promise included the detail that he would have Mexico pay for this wall. His website still has a plan on how exactly he intended to accomplish that. But, as one might expect, Mexico does not want to pay for this wall. Neither does the Democratic party. So, there is a partial government shutdown.

All because of a wall.

Native American tribes have also lost funding in the shutdown. The U.S. government is now violating the treaties that ensure funding for health care, education and other services to tribes in exchange for the millions of acres of land we now call the U.S.A.. Now, that guaranteed funding has dried up in the midst of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. But when has the U.S. government ever valued the well-being of the tribes?

Another one of the unintentional (or perhaps, sadly, intentional) consequences of this shutdown affects exactly those who Trump wants to keep out with the wall — migrant families. Those in detention centers after seeking asylum, or being picked up in Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, those separated from their families, are still stuck, awaiting a trial indefinitely. Immigration courts are shut down, barring urgent cases from moving forward.

All because of a wall.

A wall born from xenophobia that Trump thinks will solve problems with immigration more than, say, immigration court, the Coast Guard or any other part of the U.S. government. But no, the wall will be the thing that finally makes America great again.

Let this be a lesson on the importance of voting, because elections have consequences.

The Western Front Editorial Board is composed of Dante Koplowitz-Fleming, Monique Merrill and Laura Place.

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