On Tuesday, Donald Trump backed away from using an Oval Office address to declare a national emergency. He repeated the same false claims and magical solutions he has been using since 2015. He didn’t mention the real pain his shutdown is causing everyday Americans.
He should stop holding the government hostage to an applause line.
A former Trump campaign adviser recently admitted that building a border wall was never a policy or plan. It was a mnemonic, a device to help the candidate remember to talk about immigration.
Build a wall, Trump told supporters in his first speeches, “and Mexico will pay for it.” It became a reliable applause line at his rallies, something Trump himself said he used whenever he saw his crowds getting bored or thinking about leaving.
Present and former Mexican presidents have made it clear that they aren’t paying for anything. In colloquial terms, they told the president of the United States to pound sand.
Now, Trump is demanding that taxpayers pay for his wall, or steel slatted fence, or whatever word he chooses for a physical barrier, with $5 billion added to legislation that would keep most of the government functioning. Democrats said no. Trump refused to sign new budget authorizations. Shutdown.
Now he has gone to the American people in a televised address. He didn’t say anything new. Even the false justifications for a wall weren’t new.
As a population, illegal immigrants are not assaulting, raping and murdering Americans. Undocumented criminals have done those things. Such crimes are tragic, but not new and not frequent.
A wall won’t fix the immigration system. It sure won’t help the humanitarian crisis caused by this administration’s failure to address the large numbers of migrants legally requesting asylum.
The United States doesn’t need a wall to be safe. It needs a president who adheres to truth and facts, a president who understands that the job he sought includes the responsibility to operate the government, not break it.
There is no national emergency. There isn’t even a border-control crisis. “Build that wall” is a metaphor thrown like red meat to cheering, chanting campaign crowds listening to Trump spout anti-immigration rhetoric.
The only thing real about this crisis is that government employees are not getting paid, contractors are not getting paid, and small businesses that count on those customers are not getting paid. For them, it is an emergency that should never have happened and it should be stopped now.