The Wall of Trump

It is hard to forget the opening statement of Trump’s 2016 campaign manifesto– to build a wall along the Mexico-US border and making Mexico pay for it. While the latter part of the declaration seems improbable, Trump has rigidly stuck to fulfilling the former part of his imprudent announcement, which has resulted in the ongoing government shutdown in the United States.

On December 11, Trump held a televised meeting with speaker-designer Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, during which he asked for their support and 5 billion dollars to fund a border wall. In response to this, the Democrats offered a maximum 1.3 billion dollars for border security instead of a border wall, but Trump refused to settle for less than $5 billion. This led to a government shutdown– another example of the lack of mutual accord between the two dominant groups and has adversely affected the economic sphere of the country. It has affected several key government departments including Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, the Interior and State Departments. It has led to the some 380,000 employees being furloughed and left some 420,000 federal employees to work without pay. While the consequences of the shutdown are most acutely felt by the federal employees, its ripple effect is slowly reaching thousands of civilians as well.

According to what he conveyed to Mr Schumer, the President is proud to have shut down the government for border security reasons and is prepared to allow parts of the government to remain shuttered for months, or even years to get the funding he wants. He has also floated the possibility of declaring a national emergency to secure the border wall funding.

If we critically analyze the situation, prevention of illegal immigration will relieve government spending by reducing the cost of social welfare, health, and education programs. According to Trump, 113 billion dollars of income tax revenue are lost every year due to illegal immigration. On the other hand, the pleas of the DACA (Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals) or the people who came to the land of promised opportunity and have made America their home cannot be overlooked. Many immigrants were children when they arrived, hustled over the border by parents and relatives without any knowledge of the gravity of the situation, and have been raised as Americans,  unfamiliar with their country of birth. Sending them back would not be a victory for law and order: it would be an act of inhumanity. Furthermore, it is up for debate whether a physical barrier is the most effective way of border control or not as it could have several workarounds. Some methods include using wire cutters to remove barbed-wire or locating and digging holes in vulnerable sections of the border. In such a situation, building a wall will not be the wisest solution.
US law makers and the White House are no closer to breaking the impasse on this issue, with some calling it a tactical move on Trump’s part to shift the focus from the Mueller investigation and to cause a significant delay in the possibility of his impeachment, while others are labeling it as yet another trick by the Democrats to malign the already tarnished image of the President. As the shutdown enters its third week with no foreseeable solution in sight, the civilians have started sharing ‘shutdown stories’ on social media, about their difficulties to break even due to the sudden cut-off of their monthly income. However, even their trials have not been able to evoke a sense of compassion and accountability in the heart of the President, who is as adamant as before.

The longest shutdown in the US history lasted for 21 days, but looking at the current state of things, this one could last longer as Mr Trump shows no signs of budging from his unflinching resolution. How long will this phase of inertia last? Only time, or Trump can tell.

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