The president of the United States has taken American government workers hostage in his attempt to build a senseless wall. It’s past time for the government shutdown to end. As the days creep on, 800,00 government workers are not receiving their hard earned paychecks. What is worse, many news outlets are not talking about the thousands upon thousands of hourly wage workers who work in occupations tangential to the government workers. A close friend recently walked around downtown Washington, D.C., only to find stores and restaurants closed until the shutdown is resolved. That means waiters and waitresses, food distributors, bus boys, cooks and so many others are not making any money during this shutdown. The president and the Republican Party are to blame, and we must continue to put pressure on our elected officials to resolve this American democratic crisis as soon as possible.
When the president met with House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office just a few weeks ago, he declared that he would own the shutdown completely. Now it seems the president is attempting to bargain with the livelihoods of undocumented students (for three years only) in an attempt to receive the $5 billion he’d like to build the wall. Mind you, this is the same president who swore Mexico would pay for the wall. A wall that even residents at the border have consistently said would not curb the flow of migrants, drugs or terrorists. The vast majority of terrorists come through designated ports of entry, and more “untoward individuals” enter the United States through Canada (not Mexico).
Essentially, the wall is a racist monument to this president’s die-hard supporters. During the election season and since his tenure in the White House, he has promised to expel Muslims, people from “shithole countries” and “rapists” coming in from Mexico and Latin America. There is no policy to back his decision-making on this issue. Countless border agents have expressed the necessity for comprehensive understandings of the Central American countries in which thousands of migrants are fleeing. They also expressed the need for drug-sniffing dogs and better technology to assess real versus perceived threats. A massive 2,000-mile-long wall is not something these professionals have asked for. However, a man who feels the need to put his name on buildings is definitely going to be slow to abandon the idea of a large monument to his xenophobic assessment of immigrants. Reminder, Trump is the son of an immigrant himself.
The government shutdown must end. We must remain vigilant and not get distracted by the barrage of nonsense from this president and work to get our fellow citizens back to work.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC and the host of The Aftermath on Ozy.com.