Americans Used as Leverage for Border Wall

Photo Credit / Wikimedia Commons U.S. President Donald Trump gives citizens a full explanation on the government shutdown.

Cole Tamarri

Managing Editor

The government was partially shut down for 35 days because of the whims of a racist.

Actually, two racists: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.   

This fiasco is reminiscent of an old Hans Christian Andersen folktale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

In Andersen’s tale, two weavers claim to have made the emperor a set of clothes that only those who are intelligent or competent can see.

No one dares to tell the emperor in actuality that he is, in fact, wearing no clothes for fear of being castigated or marginalized.

Eventually, at the end of this tale, a child cries out that the leader is in fact, naked.

In this shutdown, we have an “emperor” in Trump who only subscribes to his egotistical impulses, and only regurgitates information that plays along into whatever con at the time will get him closer to his goals.

The “weaver” is Stephen Miller, a senior-level policy advisor who was the architect of the travel ban, who is pushing far-right, racist, xenophobic ideas into Trump’s message and agenda.

McConnell refuses to tell the president that he, in fact, does not have the votes to pass a bill for the wall after the results of the midterm election, akin to Andersen’s townspeople refusing to tell the emperor of his missing clothes.

In refusing to do his duty to help the country move forward, McConnell has proven himself to be of the lowest moral fiber, instead choosing to hide behind Trump’s shadow.

Thirty-five days. People lost a month’s worth of pay. People struggled to pay rent, to care for their kids. Why?

Because people like Ann Coulter, a right-wing pundit think that Americans want a $5.7 billion wall over their livelihood.

In the name of democracy, the United States has continuously exploited Latin American nations for profit and resources. When the country in question has a mass migration, fleeing violence or just seeking better opportunities, we turn our back on them.

Those who say build the wall and practice a faith: does that sentiment coincide with your faith?

There is a level of cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy on this subject that borders on criminal.

Do we want criminals in the country?

Of course not, but ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has become a weapon of terror for those with black or brown skin.

I even had a run-in with ICE during this shutdown.

I was woken up on a train car by the battery pack of a two-way radio being tapped hard against my head and then met with the demand to see identification and proof of citizenship.

The person next to me, an older man from New York City, spoke little English, and the agent got loud and visibly aggressive, leaning into the gentleman’s personal space, as he frantically searched for his American passport.

ICE agents did this procedure at two stops, Buffalo and Rochester, to every single passenger in the car and even hauled two men and a woman off the train several cars back.

The United States government was partially closed for 35 days, and yet the insidious police state continued to wield power.

This administration used the American people as leverage so that a wall could be built which would stand as a tribute to racism more than it would keep immigrants out.

Despite the shutdown, we asked many government employees, and subcontractors, who will not be getting the back pay of direct employees, to continue doing their jobs.

A TSA agent in Orlando threw himself off of a balcony on Feb. 2, and a union official told CNN that she believed that the shutdown and its stresses played a part in his decision.

If squeezing an already struggling middle-class to the brink of losing everything in the name of a campaign promise is making America great again, I think something is lost in translation.

Coast Guard employees who went without pay were told in a memo on how to survive the furlough “to hold garage sales, bake sales…and that bankruptcy is the last option.”

There should be no reason in this country at any point that any member of the armed forces should face this kind of derision and crass treatment.

While the government is open for now, Friday, Feb.15 is a deadline by which the legislature needs to pass another budget bill or a stopgap measure in order to keep everything open.

All of this, because of a $5.7 billion wall insisted upon by a racist, and supported by people who lack the understanding and implications of what is really happening to immigrants.

The truth is, America suffers from an “Us and Them” mentality.

There is a pervasive belief that these immigrant are the “them,” the “other.”

In reality, what ails us is a refusal of this nation as a whole to face up to the mistakes of the past and learn from them and invest in the future, infrastructure and doing the right thing by all people who have been marginalized.

Email Cole at: