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Debbie Weinstein's picture

Steel or concrete, President Trump’s wall is a useless, wasteful and increasingly tired ploy. The President once again chose to mislead and to sow fear. The vast majority of families with children or children alone who seek asylum in the United States are fleeing dangerous conditions in their home countries. Between April 19 and Sept. 30, 2018, investigations of adults and children crossing the border found that they were indeed related family members; only one-quarter of one percent were not. They need our help, as the law and conscience require. The President did not tell the truth about them in his speech, and called the legal protections against the harms of lengthy detention of children “loopholes.”

Those with terrorist ties enter our country by air or sea; they do not cross the border where they might be discouraged by a wall. Drug smugglers hide their contraband in vehicles crossing through legal entry points. A wall would be irrelevant to them. People fearing for their lives give themselves up at ports of entry or elsewhere on the border. They have a legal right to seek asylum. But the President continues to stoke fear, forcing the shutdown of government services over a useless waste of billions of dollars.

The victims of this cynical ploy are growing more numerous every day the shutdown continues. In addition to the migrants, there are 800,000 federal workers, 420,000 of them working without pay. Some clean offices and staff restaurants in federal buildings, low-income contracted workers who will never get compensated for their lost hours. Other victims live in low-income housing increasingly in disrepair. If the shutdown drags on, there are real risks low-income people will lose their rental assistance. Although the Administration now says nutrition benefits will continue, that remains uncertain if the shutdown goes on long enough. Native Americans are starting to lose medical treatment through the Indian Health Service. Research is being lost. Business services and access to mortgages are limited; opportunities are missed.

It is time for this massive hostage-taking to stop. The Senate needs to vote for the House-passed appropriations bills, which are the same bills previously passed overwhelmingly either by the full Senate or the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senators should block other legislation until Majority Leader McConnell brings the appropriations bills to the floor. First things first: the Senate must join the House in re-opening government.

If the President manages to build some of his wall, it will stand as a monument to deception and cynical manipulation of fear and grief. The House instead has re-started the process of governing. The Senate needs to follow suit, now.

This post was originally published on the Coalition on Human Needs' blog, Voices for Human Needs. Follow CHN on Facebook and Twitter

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