Despite the fact that President Trump has fired almost every big gun he has, his battle with congressional Democrats over funding the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border has been stalemated. He will probably lose the fight.
The partial government shutdown, the longest ever, is in its fourth week. Despite his fondness for governance by Twitter, Trump made his first ever Oval Office speech on Tuesday night intending to rally Americans to his cause.
The speech lasted less than ten minutes, and in delivering it Trump’s performance was lackluster. He didn’t exhibit any of the passion and didn’t employ any of the heated rhetoric that dominated his 2016 campaign. The speech flopped because Trump failed to do the three things presidents do in every successful Oval Office address.
He didn’t announce a new government action that made news. He didn’t explain why the opposition was intransigent and wrongheaded in its refusal to go along with him. And he failed to rally the voters to support him by asking them to call their congressmen and senators to push hard for his border wall. (He didn’t even give out the Capitol switchboard number — 202-224-3121 — through which any senator’s or congressman’s office can be reached.)
Many anticipated that Trump would use the speech to declare a national emergency that would give him the authority to go around Congress and use already-appropriated Pentagon military construction funds to build the wall. He didn’t, and was wise to avoid it. Any such declaration would be tied up in the courts for about two years, leaving the wall unbuilt before the 2020 election.
Remember that it took two years before his executive order barring visas for people from certain Muslim-majority states was, in a later version, approved by the Supreme Court.
This fight is about the 2020 election, nothing more. The Dems want to damage Trump politically — and possibly cause him to alienate enough of his base for him to lose in 2020 — by refusing to appropriate funding for the wall. Now that they control the House, and with a squishy-weak Republican majority in the Senate that can’t muster sixty votes to overcome a filibuster on anything, the Dems hold all the cards.
They’re only waiting for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report to begin impeachment proceedings against the president.
There was a lot Trump could have done in his speech to prove that the Dems are intransigent and totally wrong-headed. Their opposition to the wall — and unconcern about the government partial shutdown — are based on a string of lies and half-truths centering on their claim that they favor border security and oppose the wall because it’s “immoral” (as Speaker Pelosi has said) and “medieval” as other Dems have said.
The Dems’ insist that they are for border security but only want to provide it with “technology” and added personnel for the Border Patrol. That is the Big Lie on which their refusal to fund the border wall is based and why government shutdown continues.
Unless there is an effective physical barrier, such as the one Trump wants to build, nothing will be effective in even slowing the flow of illegal immigrants across our southern border. Former leaders of the Border Patrol have said that again and again.
All around the world, border barriers have proved effective. Emperor Qin Shi Huang built the 13,000-mile Great Wall of China in the third century B.C. to stop barbarian incursions. It worked.
More than a dozen years ago, I walked along the Israeli side of their border wall near Tulkarm on the West Bank. It stopped over 99% of attempts by terrorists to breach it. Hungary built one across its border with Serbia and it stopped the flow of immigrants. There are walls across many borders that are just as effective.
The Dems know that even if we had hundreds of thousands of Border Patrol people on the border, they can only arrest people after they actually get into the U.S. At which point the immigrants — from whatever nation they come — are swallowed by the amnesty/immigration system which makes it virtually impossible to find them when they miss the court dates they are assigned and disappear into the population. Even if they are found, it’s very difficult to deport them and virtually impossible to prevent them from coming into the U.S. again.
Even those who are deported find it easy to slip back into the United States. Jose Zarata, the illegal alien who shot and killed Kate Steinle in San Francisco, had been deported five times before the shooting. He will be deported after he serves his sentence. And he’ll be back in the U.S. shortly after that. He’ll probably get back to San Francisco, a sanctuary city in a sanctuary state.
Their denials to the contrary, what the Dems really want is open borders.
Begin with Hillary Clinton’s (paid) speech to a group of Brazilian bankers in 2013. She said, “My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, sometime in the future with energy that’s as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.”
That, of course, is the model of the European Union which has open trade and — through its Schengen Agreement — open borders under which any citizen of any EU nation can travel without a passport and emigrate to any other EU nation. In Clinton’s formulation, there would be no limit to the number of people from Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America who could emigrate to the U.S.
Until they can make Hillary’s “dream” come true, Congressional Dems support sanctuary cities and states. Because those sanctuary jurisdictions are an enthusiastic invitation to illegal immigration, there is no way to reconcile support for those sanctuaries with border security.
The Dems have, and will continue, to block any attempt to deprive sanctuary cities and states of federal funding.
No one — not the president, not congressional Republicans, and certainly not the media — calls the Dems on that fundamental conflict in their position.
That is only the most obvious of the conflicts in their positions that are equally irreconcilable with border security.
The Dems always want “comprehensive immigration reform,” which translates into amnesty (and a “path to citizenship”) for every illegal immigrant. That approach was rejected in 2007 when John McCain and Ted Kennedy offered it, even though then-president George W. Bush supported it. But, as always, the Dems never give up on a bad idea.
The Dems refuse any reform to our immigration laws that could help solve the illegal immigration problem.
For example, the law on asylum provides that anyone who manages to set one toe into U.S. territory has the right to claim asylum however they manage to get here. The asylum statute specifically says that it applies to people who enter legally through ports of entry or by any other route, meaning illegally. The Dems oppose the repeal of that part of the law.
The Dems oppose a mandate for employers to use the “E-Verify” system. That system makes it terribly easy to identify someone as an illegal alien and prevent them from being hired.
Those are only two big examples. The Dems also deny the plain facts about crimes committed by illegal aliens.
According to an Investors’ Business Daily editorial last week, over 500,000 people were arrested by the Border Patrol last year trying to enter the U.S. illegally. That is probably half (or less) of those who actually entered. The Center for Immigration Studies, quoted in the IBD editorial, says that non-citizens accounted for 20% of all federal convictions although they only represent 8.4% of the population.
Another part of the problem is that deportation of illegal aliens is very hard to accomplish. In a variety of contexts, the Supreme Court has held that anyone within the U.S. has certain constitutional rights. That even extends to terrorist prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who have the right to assert the writ of habeas corpusto try to get released by the courts. The right to due process of law in deportation and asylum cases is firmly ensconced in the law.
Those problems — all of which the Dems refuse to help solve — are why we are where we are. The problems with the law, and the Dems refusal to help solve them, are why Trump had no choice but to close the government to try to force their cooperation.
It appears that despite the president using all weapons at his disposal, including the government shutdown, the Dems have won the battle.
As the shutdown continues, it’s less and less likely that Trump will succeed in forcing the Dems to compromise. Until last Friday employees of even “shut down” federal agencies received their paychecks and, mostly, stayed on duty. The Transportation Security Agency is one of those. Every day, fewer TSA employees will work, gradually shutting down air travel. Our economy can’t stand that.
As our economic problems multiply, Trump will have to make a deal to open the government without funding for the border wall. The Dems will gladly do that and then dance over what they think is Trump’s political grave.