President Donald Trump wants to construct a border wall between the United States and Mexico in an effort to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the country. With a divided Congress set to take office next year, however, he’s going to have a hard time getting Democrats and even some members of his own party agreeing to fund it.
So he’s decided to take drastic measures, and threaten a government shutdown until he gets it.
According to reporting from Fox News, Trump is “totally willing” to use the continued funding of the U.S. government, which is up for discussion soon, as leverage to get his wall. He’s also planning to stand “firm” on his demand of $5 billion to fund the project.
The threat comes long before a new Congress is set to take office, too, as the shutdown will come about unless a deal is reached by December 8 of this year.
It’s an unusual situation. As reporting from CNN points out, most government shutdowns have occurred in years when divided governments exist, not when the executive branch and both houses of Congress are controlled by the same political party, which is the current situation. The only time a government shutdown actually happened over the past 30 years with of one party controlling Congress and the presidency, was earlier this year, under Trump’s watch.
Despite Trump’s steadfast demands and unwillingness to budge on the issue, it’s unlikely at this point that such a deal can be made. If a shutdown does come about, it won’t be good news for him.
Polling on the issue demonstrates that a majority of citizens don’t want the president to follow through on such a threat, with 55 percent saying a shutdown for a border wall is not worth it. Less than one-third of the electorate (31 percent) say they would back Trump’s efforts to get the border wall, even if it means creating a funding crisis.
Beyond the polling numbers, a border wall is not the proper way to stop unwanted immigration from flowing into the United States. Two out of every three immigrants don’t even come into the country by crossing the border in an illegal fashion, according to Newsweek. Most immigrants, in fact, enter the country legally and simply overstay their visas. Other immigrants who do enter the country without documentation are smuggled in through trucks and other transportation vehicles, reporting from the Texas Tribune noted, meaning that a wall wouldn’t stop them either way.
It is foolish for Trump to put an ultimatum to lawmakers to put up funding for a wall that won’t work. Doing so while using the credit of the United States as a bargaining chip is beyond foolish, however, and borders on irresponsible. A prolonged government shutdown will hurt our economy in a number of ways, putting the already fragile financial security of everyday Americans at greater risk of faltering.