Image via Shuttertock/AHMAD FAIZAL YAHYA
Last night, Trump used his State of the Union Address to continue begging for border wall funding. As always, he weaponized fear and politicized senseless, apolitical tragedies through his choice of guests, referencing relatives of a couple killed in Nevada by an undocumented immigrant. It dawned on me during the speech that I’ve seen this movie before.
Our current president is using fear-mongering to get his way, and like with President George W. Bush, it seems to be working. 16 years ago, the Bush II forced us into an ill-conceived, horrific war in order to neutralize the threat of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. Billions of dollars and thousands of American troops lives later, Iraq is a bigger mess now that it was before we went in.And now, less than two decades later, then-candidate Donald Trump campaigned on the message of confronting the threat at our southern border, where he swore rapists and murderers were flooding into the country. While the majority of voters did not take the bait, enough did, and he has made the border wall THE focal point of his presidency.
Now, some of you may say I’m reaching, but let’s review the facts. Trump is demanding almost daily that Congress appropriate funds for a physical barrier on the southern border-- and this distinction is important because we have two borders-- that report after report have made clear would be ineffective at the goal of hindering migration, drug trafficking, etc., but would be absolutely devastating to wildlife, the national deficit, foreign relations, and local economies. When confronted with this information, he immediately turned to fear-mongering and demonizing South and Central Americans (and “Middle Easterners”).
As I said, we’ve seen this movie before, and it did not end well.
As anyone with a shred of credibility has admitted, invading Iraq was a costly mistake, and relations in the Middle East are worse today because of it. There is no reason to think that a different outcome would result from putting a multi-billion dollar wall on our southern border and ostracising Mexico, one of our longstanding allies.
At the end of the day, it should not be on taxpayers to front the money for whatever baseless scheme the President comes up with, and irrational fear of foreigners--this time brown, South and Central American immigrants-- cannot become the only prerequisite for a multi-year, multi-billion endeavor (because that’s all the wall would be). It won’t halt immigration, nor would it address the vast majority of drugs making their way into the country at ports of entry, just as Bush’s war did not make our country safer or stabilize the Middle East. But now I’m preaching to the choir.
Everyone who has been paying attention already knows this. Even the 40% of Americans who still approve of Trump know this. It just doesn’t matter, despite democracy requiring that when two-thirds of us come together and say no to something, this time the something being Trump declaring a national emergency to get border wall funding, the majority should have their way.
And while yes, the President chose not to declare a national emergency during his SOTU, the fact that it was even an option to him, and probably still is, should concern us all.
Ultimately, it’s time for Congress, specifically the House, to take immigration reform and border security out of the President’s hands. He and his administration have shown time and again that they are unwilling to compromise or act rationally when it comes to our southern border and immigrants. Their family separation policy is proof of this, and those responsible still have not shown regret for the damage caused. After all, this is what the voters want, otherwise they would not have elected a Democratic majority in the House to oppose President Trump at every turn.