Our nation entered a partial government shutdown at midnight on Dec. 21. A quarter of the federal government closed, salaries of over 800,000 federal employees were cut and millions of federal contractors and employees stopped receiving payment. As of Jan. 12, the government shutdown made history as the longest in the history of the U.S.
The origins of the shutdown are rooted in President Trump’s 2016 campaign promise to build a wall at the southern border, a job that he also promised to have paid for by Mexico themselves. However now, in an effort to get the wall built, Trump has asked for $5.7 billion to fund the border wall. Democrats offered instead $1.6 billion for general border security funding, but the effort was not enough for Trump. Without that amount reserved for the wall, Trump refused to sign the funding bill and effectively shut the government down.
From as early as Trump’s presidential run announcement in June 2015, he has made his intentions for the wall very clear. Even then, he reasoned this intention by claiming migrants from Mexico bring “drugs” and “crime” into America when they cross the border.
Since 2015, Trump’s tactic of inciting fear into Americans has only heightened, claiming the threat of immigrants is a deadly one. In October of 2018, Trump even went as far as to deploy thousands of troops to the southern border in a showy effort to combat a caravan of migrants seeking shelter and safety in the U.S. One specific tweet sent out by Trump claimed, “many gang members and some very bad people are mixed into the caravan heading to our southern border” and went on to call the caravan an invasion.
Trump’s rhetoric when discussing his plans for a wall, as well as immigrants in general, is a calculated effort to persuade Americans that there is an immediate danger from which we need protection. However, the only protection we need right now is from the situation into which Trump himself has put our country.
By refusing to sign the funding bill, refusing to compromise and taking action to shut down the government, Trump has caused millions of Americans to suffer. The federal workers being affected by this pay stoppage are not all the 1 percent, capable of riding out the shutdown without any detriment to their everyday lives. Instead, thousands are employees of the Internal Revenue Services, U.S Forest Department, Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and more. Those affected are everyday people who make, on average, $69,344.22; however, a quarter of federal employees make less than $56,143, according to public record. Many government employees have been furloughed, missing out on paychecks and the security of knowing they will make their next mortage payment or credit card bill.
Those federal workers can only assume that they will be compensated for missed wages, but there is no guarantee, The Washington Post said earlier this month. Due to this, many federal workers are now filing for unemployment to cover their cost of living until the shutdown is resolved.
The shutdown has a ripple effect. Due to the furloughed federal employees, there are more immediate effects of the government shutdown we can expect to see and are already seeing.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has suspended their usually mandatory health and safety housing inspections of low-income families, the elderly and the disabled, according to the department’s contingency plan posted on its website.
TSA agents, typically paid to do security checks to keep weapons off airplanes, have been asked to work for free. Even our food is being compromised. The Food and Drug Administration, responsible for upholding the safety and security of foods, has lessened its monitoring, focusing only now on what are considered high-risk foods.
Although Trump’s original motivation for the wall was protection from those across the border, he has caused financial turmoil for those within the country with his refusal to compromise. Migrants are no more danger to the American people than the fear of not making their next mortage or lapsing in loans. For those immediately effected by the government shutdown, resolution cannot come soon enough. Compromise needs to be made, and soon.
The Carrier’s editorial opinion represents the views of the senior members of the Campus Carrier and Viking Fusion news staff.