Trump’s clarity on Border Wall ironically exposed how Dems have it both ways on “border security”
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
By Jonathan Salinas
“I can’t tell you when the government is going to be open,” said the 45th President of the United States on Christmas Day. “I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they [Congressional Democrats] would like to call it,” he continued. “I’ll call it whatever they want.”
The federal government closed on December 22 after a House Continuing Resolution that included $1.6 billion for border wall funding through February 8 passed both The House and Senate, but went unsigned by Trump, which expired at the end of the year. The shutdown, now in its 27th day, is the longest in U.S. history.
With hundreds of thousands of federal employees working without a paycheck, many calling in sick across the country, one point that has not been lost on border communities is the casuistic question of whether a wall is the same thing as a fence. Local grassroots organizations have aimed their ire and indignation at Democratic Party leaders who have absolved themselves of responsibility for helping fund border barriers by finding a nicer, perhaps more "inclusive", word.
In December, No Border Wall Save Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge—a grassroots committee of residents along the Rio Grande Delta—released a video on their Facebook page titled “A Fence is a Wall”.
The 46-second video slams Schumer for obfuscating the border wall issue by consecutively showing quote bubbles with the stated positions of both Schumer and Trump, respectively.
Schumer: “I call it a fence.” Trump: “I call it a wall.”
It goes on to explain how a bipartisan omnibus package in 2018 included $1.6 billion for “fencing”, also showing how that money was respectively appropriated between “secondary fencing,” “pedestrian levee fencing,” and “pedestrian fencing along the southwest border.”
“Schumer’s fencing and Trump’s walls,” explained the video, “don’t look very different for border residents who will lose homes and farms, parks and wildlife refuges in the path of the wall. It doesn’t matter what you call them; they hurt our communities.”
The video ends by urging viewers to call Congress and tell them no funding for walls and fences. (The 2018 omnibus spending package referenced therein was supported by “Valley” Congressman Henry Cuellar, and potential 2020 candidate for U.S. President, Beto O’Rourke, as they both voted in its favor last March.)
Although President Trump is incorrect in saying that border barriers prevent drugs from entering the United States, as the Government Accountability Office found in February of 2017 that Customs and Border Protection cannot measure the contribution of fencing to border security operations along the southwest border because of undeveloped metrics for such assessment, to say nothing of the death, damage and failure that border barriers cause, Trump nonetheless is clear on his position and what it means.
In Trump clarifying the non-difference between a “wall” and a “fence,” he exposed how Democrats like Schumer and Pelosi have been trying to sneak border barriers through customs by referring to them as “fences” and other obfuscations. Mariana Treviño Wright, Executive Director of the threatened National Butterfly Center, recently told Únete that Schumer’s linguistic tactics are part of a misinformation campaign by the Democratic Party, and their allies in the media, to not concede Trump a “win”. In other words, if Trump gets a 'fence' rather than his much-reviled 'wall', then surely they will have dealt him a blow.
Government workers, such as those with the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), have bore the brunt of the shutdown which furloughs hundreds of thousands of federal employees who have not received a paycheck since December of last year. Many civilians who rely on governmental services await in angst and worry over how long the government deadlock will persist.
Unions like The American Federation of Government Employees, a federal Employees’ Union, sued the Trump Administration over their forcing over 420,000 federal employees to work without pay since December 22. The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), which represents 150,000 members at 33 federal agencies, filed a lawsuit last Tuesday alleging that hundreds of thousands of workers are being illegally forced to work without pay, according to The Washington Post.
These mass-furloughs of federal workers is sure to help catalyze a revolutionary spark in the United States, where workers across the country face an opportunity to unite in solidarity with immigrants and border communities, demanding that federal employees not be held hostage as well as an end to border wall construction, the end result of which kill migrants and ecologically devastate the surrounding areas in which they are built. However, federal employees are prohibited from taking part in political activity per a 1939 law, the Hatch Act.
Who really pays the price for border barriers?
As border communities from Brownsville to Tucson have been pointing out, residents who live along the U.S. - Mexico border will be the ones to pay the real costs of border barriers. And as Trump wages open warfare on immigrants and working people, Democrats have proven incapable of not throwing border communities under the bus. They've done so by employing deceptive rhetoric in order to make it seem as though they oppose border barriers, while surreptitiously desiring to make a 'less-evil' deal with the person whom they portray as the devil himself.
While Democrats also jeer at the “broken campaign promise” of “making Mexico pay for the wall,” in their relentless and futile—and thus insane—campaign to make Trump look like a jerk, what likewise gets lost in the translation of “partisan” discourse is the reality that border communities, particularly those on the “Mexican” side of an imaginary line known as the border, will pay a high price indeed when border “fences” built on flood plains in Starr County are met with, well, floods. The damages and costs that border communities on both sides of the "border" will undoubtedly incur from more border barriers is the subject of my next piece. firstname.lastname@example.org