Government & Politics

The Barrier to the Border Wall

Democrats in Congress are threatening a shut down over the wall, so Republicans removed $1.5 billion in funding for it.

Lewis Morris · Apr. 26, 2017

President Donald Trump’s immigration policies are working to reduce illegal border crossings already, but the courts and Congress would prefer he stop what he’s doing. In the latter branch, the border wall may be the cost of averting a government shutdown this Friday. Earlier this week, Republican leaders offered to remove funding for the wall to move talks forward on a continuing resolution. Democrats have dug in over funding the wall, which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called an “immoral, expensive, unwise” exercise. They’re threatening to shut down the government rather than fund it.

Democrats were fine with the Republican counterproposal to increase overall border security spending, which includes repairing existing fence and adding new surveillance technologies. The money was not the issue. They’re in this for the political victory — the opportunity to say the Democrats defeated Trump’s wall.

During the 2013 immigration reform fiasco, Democrats were prepared to approve $40 billion to beef up border security with manpower, technology, and, yes, walls. Oh, and back in 2006, they actually authorized funding for the wall.

In this most recent shutdown showdown, however, Democrats utterly rejected Trump’s request for just $1.5 billion for border security, about $700 million of which would have gone to the wall. That’s less than 2% of the amount Democrats accepted four years ago. It’s not even a rounding error when you consider the $3.9 trillion budget, which is what should be the focus.

Democrats would rather crash the whole works than hand a victory to President Trump. What they may not realize, however, is that their win is symbolic at best. Just last weekend, Trump accepted with a shrug that he could put off funding until next year. He then insisted that the wall will still get built.

Trump is largely right about the wall. It was never going to be a large concrete and stone structure to rival the Great Wall of China. The whole “big, beautiful wall” routine was largely rhetorical flourish on the campaign trail, and everyone knew it. A secure border will employ several measures including manned patrols, cameras and other electronic surveillance, drones, and walls and fences. That is what a wall to protect the United States will ultimately look like. And the Democrats might go along with funding it, as long as Trump doesn’t get any credit. But they’ve also moved even further left since 2013, which means the next thing they might push to fund is tearing down the wall that’s there now.

The Democrats have exposed themselves as selfish, partisan, and short-sighted in this shutdown drama. Still, no matter how it starts, Republicans always get the blame for any government shutdown. Leftists are too good at controlling the message in the media. And that’s partly why Trump isn’t about to have his 100 days mark tarnished by a shutdown, so he’s in the deal-making phase.

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