For 35 days, we Americans watched as President Donald Trump shut down the federal government and was at an impasse with the U.S. House and Senate over $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico.
This partial shutdown, which affected federal agencies including the Transportation Security Administration, Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, law enforcement agencies, and parks and museums, left 380,000 federal employees furloughed and 420,000 employees working without pay.
On Jan. 25, Trump agreed to sign a bill to reopen the government for three weeks and to end the longest government shutdown in history without getting funding for the wall.
After reading a Washington Post email I received on Trump agreeing to reopen the government, I turned on CNN in time to watch House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s news conference.
“We’re pleased that we reached an agreement now so that we can have a discussion on how to secure our borders,” Pelosi said. “I am grateful and inspired by the courage and the determination of America’s workers ... They have shown during this crisis something so — such strong character.”
During the question-and-answer session with media, Pelosi stated, “The president talked about drugs coming into our country. Ninety percent of the drugs come through the ports of entry ... Let us increase the infrastructure where the drugs are coming in ... the technology to scan for drugs, guns, contraband and the rest.”
If 90 percent of the drugs coming into the U.S. are coming through ports of entry, why did Trump push so hard for funding for the wall that he had to shut down the federal government for over a month?
It makes more sense, as Pelosi stated, to increase infrastructure and technology to scan for drugs and guns at the ports of entry than to build a wall.
However, if Trump wants the wall to keep out Central American immigrants who are fleeing violence in their home countries, part of the wall has already been in place for years.
A Jan. 26 ABC News.com article, titled “Nearly 700 Miles of Fencing at the US-Mexico Border already exist” by Julia Jacobo and Serena Marshall, states, “But some 700 miles of fencing had already been completed along the country’s nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico, much of it during Barack Obama’s presidency, as part of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed by (former President) George W. Bush.”
After viewing numerous photos and a video titled “The Wall-interactive Map exploring U.S.-Mexico Border” by USA Today, it was obvious a good portion of the border runs through areas such as the Rio Grande Valley and River, Lake Amistad and Texas’ Big Ben National Park with cliffs and desert, areas where it looks like it would be impossible to build a wall.
For Trump to shut down the government until Congress gives him funding to build a wall — where 700 miles of wall already exist and the other areas where it would be difficult to build on because of the terrain — was not fair to all the federal workers and their families affected by the shutdown.
I was appalled to hear how much Secretary of Commerce Wilber Ross was out of touch with the American people, when he said on a segment of CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, that he didn’t really quite understand why federal workers needed to go to food banks.
The government shutdown, which began over a month ago, may have ended on Jan. 25, and federal workers will soon be getting paid.
But will we see another shutdown in three weeks when the government reopening ends?