“The Wall is the Wall,” President Donald Trump tweeted out Thursday morning. “It has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it.”
Trump then continued with more tweets explaining the need for a border wall with Mexico, including repeated claims that the Mexican government would eventually pay for it.
The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it. Parts will be, of necessity, see through and it was never intended to be built in areas where there is natural protection such as mountains, wastelands or tough rivers or water.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
....The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S. NAFTA is a bad joke!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
Yet talk of the border wall so close to the government spending deadline worries lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who are looking to the president to provide guidance on how to avoid a looming government shutdown.
Democrats and Republicans in Congress are struggling to come up with a compromise bill that would allow the government to remain open. Democrats are insisting that a fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be part of that bill, allowing children of immigrants who aren’t legal citizens themselves to remain in the United States under a program created by former President Barack Obama. Trump ended the program in 2017, saying he'd be open to re-implementing it in the future with Congressional approval.
But Trump doesn’t want a DACA fix without compromise, including funding for his wall project. Without 60 votes in the Senate to support that project, however, it seems like Congress is at an impasse: There's no funding bill without DACA, say Democrats, and there's no DACA without a wall, says Trump.
Compromise was sought between lawmakers and the White House last week when all hell broke loose and Trump made his controversial “shithole countries” remark, saying that he did not want immigrants from countries like Haiti and African nations to come to America, preferring more immigrants from predominantly white countries, like Norway. Those comments stalled negotiations about immigration, putting on the backburner any negotiations for DACA and the continuing resolution bill that would keep the government funded.
Hope to prevent a shutdown was further complicated by Trump’s insistence on discussing a border wall on Thursday morning. The comments seem to be a response to reports that his chief of staff, John Kelly, told lawmakers his boss’s views as a candidate on the border wall were “uninformed."
Yet Trump continued to make “uninformed” comments on the wall Thursday, suggesting that it was necessary to stop drugs from entering the country — adding, “if there is no wall, there is no deal!”
We need the Wall for the safety and security of our country. We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of drugs from Mexico, now rated the number one most dangerous country in the world. If there is no Wall, there is no Deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
Trump’s comments go against what policy experts say about drugs entering our nation from Mexico, as a significantly higher rate of illegal contraband enters our nation legally through border checkpoints. A wall, most experts agree, won’t stop what Trump says it will.
But of more immediate concern is Trump’s comments that a deal can’t pass without a wall. It makes it more difficult for Congress to come up with a deal by Friday night’s deadline.
The drama that Trump has created, through his bigoted comments and refusal to negotiate in good faith, makes a government shutdown more likely to happen. His leadership style leaves members of his own party confused, and although they control both houses of Congress, they cannot seem to get a deal passed because they don’t know what the president wants or will veto.
A resolution for DACA must be part of the continuing resolution. Democrats are doing the right and morally sound thing by negotiating a fix to the program into the bill. Unfortunately, Republicans can’t make sense of what they’re willing to negotiate on, because their chief negotiator, the “stable genius,” cannot focus on the task at hand.
Banner / Thumbnail : Kevin Lamarque/Reuters