Although plans for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border have long been at the center of a stalemate — that has led to a partial government shutdown that is now on its third week — President Donald Trump’s border wall started out years ago as a “memory trick” for a would-be presidential candidate who was considered “undisciplined.”
According to a New York Times report published on Saturday night, Trump’s earliest political advisers had thought of the border wall as a “mnemonic device” just as he was first mulling a campaign for president in 2014. This, the report noted, was due to Trump’s aversion toward reading speeches from a script and tendency to brag about his accomplishments in the real estate business.
Speaking to the New York Times, former Trump political adviser Sam Nunberg recalled how he coordinated with fellow adviser Roger Stone as they came up with the wall idea as a tool to remind Trump to talk about his plans to crack down on illegal immigration. With Trump following Nunberg and Stone’s advice and mentioning the wall in his rallies, the would-be president got “rapturous cheers” from conservative voters, leading him to continue bringing it up as he pushed forward with his campaign.
Moving forward to the present, where the government shutdown has kept 800,000 federal employees out of work for slightly more than two weeks, the New York Times opined that Donald Trump’s border wall has placed him in a “political box of his own making” where the project is now “politically untouchable” for Democrats. The publication also noted how Trump’s aggressive push toward building the wall has made the shutdown quite notable due to how some anti-immigration groups do not consider the project a top priority.
“I’ve always thought it created a danger that he would trade almost anything in order to get the wall — I think that’s still a potential danger,” Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian commented.
The border wall began as a memory trick for an undisciplined candidate. Now, President Trump's fixation on it is boxing him in at a critical moment. https://t.co/jZNsNpKotV
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 5, 2019
In addition, the Federation for Anti-Immigration Reform (FAIR), another conservative group with a similar agenda, warned Trump on Friday that building the border wall would be a “mistake,” the New York Times added.
Given how the wall has seemingly become an “outsize symbol” of Trump’s desire for immigration reform and, in the words of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, something akin to a “manhood thing” for the president, Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio was quoted by the New York Times as saying that the project appeals to the president’s background as a builder. He added that Trump possibly sees the wall as something future generations could remember him by, or as tangible proof that he accomplished something during his presidency.
“I think he’d like it being called the Great Wall of Trump.”
Regardless of whether the project bears fruit or not, the idea of spending about $5 billion to build a border wall still has Trump deadlocked with Democratic lawmakers as of the moment. As quoted by Sky News, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters earlier this week that Trump recently refused his request to end the government shutdown and stop “[holding] hundreds of thousands of Americans hostage,” instead insisting that he could keep the impasse going “for months or even years” if he doesn’t get his desired funding for the border wall.