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Anyone who believes that the ongoing debate over a border wall is about security has not been following the actions of the Trump administration regarding either its ongoing attacks on the immigration of “brown people” OR its constant attacks on the federal workforce.
The much sought after Trump wall is more of a symbol than anything else. It is a symbol to his right-wing base that immigrants from south of the border are not welcome in America.
Clearly, from the day he announced his candidacy for president, Trump emphasized how he viewed immigration at the southern border of the United States as a threat to the safety and security of Americans.
His very words that day of infamy: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us, they’re bringing drugs (and) they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
He has, as president, removed protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients children who have lived most of their lives in the United States and now face deportation to a country they have no memory of ever living in, as well as protections for Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for individuals in the United States who seek refuge from nations such as Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti, or, as Trump referred to them, “shithole” countries, who are unable to return safely home due to circumstances in those countries.
As we have discussed in previous columns, the “wall” envisioned by Trump serves no useful purpose in stemming the flow of illegal drugs which are smuggled in through ports of entry and not between ports of entry, not to mention airports, seaports and international mail facilities, none of which would be served with the building of a wall.
However, as I have said, the Trump wall is not about border security as much as it is about serving as a symbol to his base of supporters, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh specifically, that he will stem the tide of Latino migration.
It is something else, as well. It is an excuse to shut down the federal government and continue his attack on the federal workforce. The federal government shutdown was just one element of a much larger pattern of the Trump administration’s efforts to privatize the federal government and make the federal workforce so dysfunctional as to expedite its own demise. Efforts to reduce the cost of living increases and retirement benefits together with under-funding federal agencies, continual attacks on our law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies, specifically the FBI and the CIA, all fall into a broader pattern of undermining the effective working of the federal government.
Naming the likes of a Rick Perry, someone with absolutely no experience with the nuclear arsenal unlike his predecessor, Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist, to head the Department of Energy is a perfect example of an attempt to make a federal agency stymied.
A perfect example, but far from the only instance when you add to the list Betsy DeVos at the Department of Education, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development, and former Secretaries Scott Pruitt at EPA, Ryan Zinke at Interior and Tom Price at Health and Human Services. Steve Bannon is seeing his dream come true.
The federal government shutdown for more than a month was a human-made crisis by this president for the sole purpose of extorting $5.7 billion for funding the building of his wall but also served to shut down a government for which he has no regard or appreciation. Previous government shutdowns occurred because Congress was not able to negotiate a budget. That was not the case with this government shutdown since both houses of Congress in December, before the House majority became Democrat, agreed on a budget. It was Trump and Trump alone who killed that budget agreement.
That said, why hold the government hostage? A budget dispute should have and could have been limited to just the issue at hand, border security. There was no need to shut the down Housing and Urban Development, Internal Revenue Service, and so on, agencies that have no direct relation to the border issue.
The answer: It is because Trump has so little regard for the workings of the federal government and its dedicated federal workforce that he had no qualms about shutting down the federal government regardless of the impact on the individual government workers, their families or the rest of the American people who depend on them. Trump bravely boasted that he would take full responsibility for shutting down the government if he did not get his wall. He did, and his poll numbers place full responsibility with him.
How ironic that a debate about security would see a shutdown that so directly impacted the Coast Guard, the FBI, Customs & Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security and so on, agencies whose responsibilities are so directly related to security. I guess security doesn’t “Trump” ego.
Trump claimed that most of the federal workforce are Democrats as if even if that were true, it would somehow justify shutting down the federal government.
As a former fed who worked during eight different administrations, I can say with certainty that federal workers, for the most part, leave their political leanings at the doorstep when they take on the responsibilities of their jobs.
However, if Trump really believed that a shutdown was justified because most feds are Democrats, I suggest that if they weren’t before the shutdown, there is good reason to suspect that they might very well be after his self-inflicted shutdown.