By Shayna Lewis on January 3, 2019
As the 116th Congress takes their seats today, hundreds of thousands of federal employees continue working without pay as the government enters day 13 of a shutdown. This shutdown, which affects 25% of the U.S. government, stems from President Trump’s demand for an additional $5 billion to construct a wall along the southern U.S. border.
In recent weeks the president has intensified his anti-immigration rhetoric, calling the U.S.-Mexico border an “open wound” and claiming “there can be no REAL Border Security without the Wall!” Despite this political grandstanding however, it remains true that building a wall across the border is an unnecessary, if not fully xenophobic, remedy to a crisis of this administration’s own making.
The 2,000-mile-long border is marked by rough terrain that already provides a natural barrier and a dangerous deterrent to illegal crossings, which are currently at a 46-year low. Building the wall would also cause irreparable ecological damage to the region. Finally, recent polls show that a majority of the country opposes funding for such an endeavor and 61 percent oppose using a shutdown as a tactic to secure the funds.
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) remains steadfast in its opposition to the wall and other ways the U.S. government is allowing abuse and hate in the name of immigration enforcement, including recent limitations on the right to seek asylum and proposals to return asylum-seekers to Mexico while they await determination on their claims. U.S. immigration policy must be based on human rights principles—lives depend on it.
In recent weeks thousands of asylum-seekers have camped in tent cities near the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana. Families continue to be separated and a congressional delegation to immigration facilities near El Paso, Tex. last month, reported that children are being treated like inmates.
This morning, the incoming House vowed to pass a bill that does not include funding for the wall, ensuring that the stalemate will drag on at least a few more days until the Senate has a chance to weigh in later this week.
As the debate continues, UUSC echoes the call of so many of our allies to say: “NO to Trump’s wall: no to $5 billion, no to $2.1 billion, no to $1.6 billion, no to $1.375 billion. And to reject any additional funding for detention beds, ICE and Border Patrol agents, or other harmful enforcement.”
Photo Credit: iStock – tiero