The government of the United States of America has shut down temporarily because of an impasse over the 2019 federal budget between Congress and President Donald Trump.
Although the US government is able to operate to a limited extent on emergency disbursements, government paychecks will not be forthcoming.
Many Filipinos are not familiar with this issue. A briefer may be necessary.
The US shares a 3,145-kilometer border with its southern neighbor, Mexico. Although there are official border gateways, the bigger part of the border is open space.
It is not easy for Mexicans to enter the US through the official gateways. Many are jobless, unskilled laborers who seek possible employment in America. Since the likelihood of their getting employed in the US is very slim, those who succeed in entering the US illegally end up as wards of the state and a drain on US financial resources.
Since the end of World War II, many Mexicans and nationals from South American states made unsuccessful attempts to enter the US illegally.
By the 1990s, the border became a gateway for illegal drugs to enter America. That aggravated the problem.
By the turn of the 21st century, illegal attempts to cross the border increased tremendously. Washington DC became more alarmed when many illegal migrants arrested at border crossings were drug mules and that many others were inflicted with highly contagious diseases.
Just last year, the number of deaths from illegal border crossing incidents increased, thus prompting President Trump to ask Congress to appropriate $70 billion to build a wall along the entire border with Mexico.
That did not seem like a problem for President Trump, until November last year when control over the US House of Representatives transferred from Trump’s Republican Party to the opposition Democratic Party. By the end of 2018, the Democrats refused to approve the federal budget unless Trump abandons his plan for the border wall.
While there appears to be a consensus in Washington DC on the need to protect the US against illegal migrants at the US-Mexican border, constructing a 3,145-kilometer wall to protect against illegal border crossings as planned by President Trump has elicited various reactions from American political leaders.
Critics of the border wall decry the large amount of money involved. Counter-critics contend that the expense may look big, but it pertains to a wall that spans more than 3,000 kilometers.
Others advance the non sequitur argument that many illegal immigrants arrested by US authorities at the border get maltreated and separated from their young children.
For humanitarian considerations, many Filipinos have been inclined to disagree with President Trump.
Yesterday morning, at a press conference broadcast live to Manila, President Trump defended his wall and cited many reasons which moved many American taxpayers to support him.
President Trump said that constructing the border wall does not mean that foreigners are not welcome to the US. He emphasized that legal migrants who can be assets to the US are always welcome provided they pass through the official ports of entry. The immigration policy obtains in many countries, the Philippines included.
Building the wall, Trump said, will also provide better security not only against illegal migrants but also against narcotics smuggling and the spread of disease to the US.
Mexican-based syndicates who prey on unsuspecting individuals desperate to cross into the US milk their victims dry. In many instances, women are raped on their way to the border.
President Trump argued that a border secured by a wall will deter illegal migrants from risking their lives and safety in dangerous, unsuccessful attempts to breach the border. The wall will also end the nefarious trade of the syndicates. By his own estimate, the lives that will be lost in 2019 due to illegal attempts to cross the border will be more than the number of American casualties in the Vietnam war.
President Trump also believes that the border wall will eventually pay for itself. He explained that the savings to be realized on account of less security personnel and incident expenses will see to that.
To cap his arguments, Trump maintained that the border wall, like the fence in a typical American home, will be there not only to protect against outsiders, but to protect every beloved family inside it.
So far, the odds are in favor of Trump.