Donald Trump has imposed the longest government shutdown in US history in an attempt to demand Congress agree to $7 billion in funding for his border wall.
The standoff with the Democratic Party saw nine different departments of the US government shut down on 22 December, leading to over 800,000 workers missing pay. Some workers deemed “essential” have been required to work without pay whilst others have been sent on temporary leave. Some have struggled to pay bills, mortgages and even been forced to visit soup kitchens.
Trump claims there is a crisis at the border, and is trying to scapegoat “illegal migrants” for crime and cuts to jobs. In an address to the nation Trump claimed that, “Day after day, precious lives are cut short by those who have violated our borders.” He even declared that “illegal immigration” hurts ordinary Americans as it “strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.”
But Trump’s waste of billions of dollars on a wall comes at the cost of funding healthcare, schools and public services.
As many as 12,000 people are estimated to be travelling through Mexico to the US in groups known as “migrant caravans”, often made up of asylum seekers fleeing violence and organised crime. Honduras, for example has one of the highest murder rates in the world—800 per cent higher than that of the United States.
In the run-up to the midterm elections Trump used these caravans to create an illusion that the border was somehow under siege. In October, he announced that he would be sending another 7000 troops to the border.
The US launched tear gas across the border after some migrants tried to breach the border following a peaceful march in Tijuana. Hundreds of migrants who were downwind of the gas were affected. This theatre is being further used to support Trump’s insane demand for the US-Mexico wall.
Despite their standoff with Trump the Democrats have proven themselves to be no heroes. They themselves agree to spending up to $1.8 billion on a border fence as well as $400 million on cameras and surveillance technology—accepting the false idea that migrants and asylum seekers are some sort of threat to “national security” or ordinary people in the US.
By Tooba Anwar