Students respond to shut down

It’s more than you think

Hundreds of thousands of employees have been placed on furlough during the current government shutdown now in its fourth week. The longest shutdown in United States history is affecting more than you would think.  More than federal employees, the shutdown is affecting small businesses in DC.

I have seen first-hand how this government shutdown affects those employees. My father works for the Environmental Protection Agency and is one of the many federal employees currently sitting at home not able to go to work. My family is one of the lucky ones affected. Fortunately we do not live paycheck to paycheck, but there are many federal employees (employees just out of college) who do. They are counting on receiving paychecks in order to pay their rent and buy groceries. 

Though it was decided that the employees will eventually receive their pay, those who are living paycheck to paycheck still face the issue of being able to pay their bills on time.

Beyond monetary struggles though, being off work has mental struggles as well. My father loves the work he does because he truly cares about the environment. He wants to be at work because he wants to be helping the world. More than a monetary toll, this shutdown has a morale toll too. Though being at home with nothing to do can be nice, I know my father and many other employees would much rather be at work doing what they are passionate about. 

The shutdown also affects many people that we wouldn’t think would be affected. I worked in Washington D.C. last summer and my dad and I would commute into work together. Before heading our separate ways for the work day, we would get coffee at a little shop right by the Federal Triangle metro station. We always got the same coffee from the same place where there were always the same employees. Though it was early they always had a smile on their faces and the shop was always crowded with federal employees. During this shutdown the shop remains open, but they don’t receive nearly as many customers. These employees and their smiling faces are also being put at risk. 

If the shutdown continues even longer some businesses may be at risk of having to close their doors because they will be losing money. Some small businesses decided to close as soon as they were notified of the shutdown because they didn’t want to risk losing the money. Other small businesses are unable to receive loans due to the shutdown, so they are being hurt in a variety of ways. 

Apart from those issues, the government shutdown is also detrimental to the tourism industry. People coming to visit places like Washington D.C. where I live are expecting to be able to go to the zoo, and the Smithsonian museums, but they can’t because all those attractions are operated by the government. Tourists are being disappointed and employees all over are being hurt.

It is quite immature to put so many people out of a job, shut down museums and parks,and hurt small businesses, to hurt people like my father, just to “build a wall.” Putting politics aside and just focusing on the humanity, if it was possible to show how people are being affected not only monetarily but also mentally, I think it would be evident that the government needs to be opened back up. I hope for my father’s sake and for the sake of so many others that this game that politicians are playing be put to a stop and people can go back to work again.

~Taryn Hannam-zatz, Staff Writer~

Ronil Singh deserves the American dream, too

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history.  Yep, if you’ve been watching cable news lately you’ve probably noticed that headline flashing up on the screen and that small ticker in the bottom right corner of the television, telling us how long the government’s been closed.  

Let’s be clear though that this isn’t a “complete” government shutdown, as 75% of the federal government has already been funded, and the remaining 25% that is unfunded is composed of non-essential employees. Many are asking why the federal government has been partially  “out of business” for so long and it all has to do with one simple, little word: wall.  

Bottom line, President Trump is requesting Congress include an additional $5.7 billion in 2019 fiscal year funding to go towards the construction of walls and barriers along our southern border. The majority of the Democratic Party, as well as twelve Republican House members, have voted to reopen the government without the wall, with Democrats saying it is “ineffective” and a “waste of money.”  Both sides are in western standoff mode, as the president has said he will not sign any funding bill that doesn’t include wall funding, and the Democrats refuse to budge on giving the president one of his biggest campaign promises heading into the 2020 presidential election.  The Democrats know that if Trump gets the wall, that it will energize his base and anger their own, which could hurt them politically going into 2020.  Trump likewise knows it was a key promise he made to his voters in 2016, and delivering on it is something he must do to bolster his chances of reelection.  Border security and immigration have been something the president has been passionate about since 2015 and that was only solidified after meeting with ‘Angel Families’ back in June of last year.   

After having a Republicancontrolled Congress for nearly two years, a frustrated President Trump had threatened to shut down the government over the wall back in September 2018 when spending bills were making their way through the Congress for fiscal year 2019.  However, with the upcoming midterm elections, Congressional Republicans told the president they would fund the wall after the elections with the remaining spending bills, in fear that a shutdown before the midterms would hurt them politically.  A bill that funded the government and contained wall funding passed through the Republican controlled House, 217-185 in December, but was stalled in the Republican controlled Senate where a threshold of 60 votes is required. The problem for Republicans was that they only had a 51-49 majority at the time.  The shutdown began on December 22, 2018, but has continued into the new year, when on January 3, 2019, the new Congress was sworn in.  With a newly split Congress, Democrats control the House of Representatives, while the Republicans control the Senate, making compromise difficult.  Bills to reopen the government were passed through the House 243-183 on January 10th, however those bills were dead on arrival in the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to put up any legislation for a vote unless it contains border wall funding. 

But let’s take Trump, the Republicans, and Democrats out of this discussion and listen to our Border Patrol on the ground. According to a survey conducted by the National Border Patrol Council from April 2, 2018, an overwhelming 89% of agents favor a wall/wall system to secure our borders. 

Whether you love Trump or hate him, it’s important to listen to the men and women on the ground who are doing their duty day in and day out, who know what resources they need to make their job easier and safer.

 But why are the majority of Congressional Democrats so against the idea of a wall to begin with? In fact, many of the prominent Democrats today who oppose the wall/barriers/fencing etc. on the border, were in fact for it not too long ago.  Back in 2006, a bill called the ‘Secure Fence Act’ was passed by Congress in a bipartisan manner, with the support of prominent Democrats such as then senators Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer (who is now the minority leader for the Democrats in the Senate).  The Secure Fence Act of 2006 authorized approximately 700 miles of fencing/walls/barriers between the US and Mexican border.  Even back in 2009, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), now a vocal critic of the wall, praised the notion of protecting America’s borders when he said “[t]he American people need to know that, because of our efforts in Congress, our border is far more secure today than it was when we began debating comprehensive immigration reform in 2005. This progress includes … construction of 630 miles of border fence that create a significant barrier to illegal immigration on our southern land border.”  

I don’t blame people for wanting to come to the greatest country in the world to seek opportunity. Heck my great-great-great grandparents came over to this country from Italy through Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century.  But at the same time you have to come in the right and legal way like the millions of immigrants who have waited their turn in line.

So why did the Democrats’ position on the wall change? One man named Donald J. Trump. The Democrats were avid supporters of enforcing America’s immigration laws and securing our southern border with barriers, but as soon as then candidate Trump began talking about the idea of a wall along our southern border in his announcement-to-run speech in 2015, the Democrats in Congress were suddenly against it.  

Both Chuck Schumer and newly anointed Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have said that a wall is “immoral” and “ineffective”, yet walls are proven to in fact work.  According to statistics from US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), areas where a wall or barrier has been constructed, have seen massive decreases in illegal immigration in cities such as Yuma, AZ (95% decrease), San Diego, CA (92% decrease), El Paso, TX (72% decrease), and Tucson, AZ (90% decrease).  

The addition of walls or barriers along our southern border wouldn’t only decrease illegal immigration, but it would prevent the potential risk of dangerous criminals from entering our country.  Most recently, on December 26, 2018, California police officer Ronil Singh, 33, was shot and killed by an illegal alien he pulled over whom he had suspected was driving under the influence.  Singh was a legal immigrant who came to America from Fiji with his brother, Reggie, in 2003.  

His dream: to become a police officer in the United States.  So while I sympathize with the 800,000 federal workers who aren’t getting paid right now, let me leave you with this.  The federal employees will get their back pay once the government reopens. But the 5-month old son of Officer Singh will never know or see his father again.  Anamika Singh will never see her husband again.  Reggie Singh will never see his brother again.  

Countless ‘Angel Families’ across this country have had to endure what the Singh family has gone through and if keeping part of the federal government shutdown is what it takes to secure our borders, then so be it.

~Shawn Fleetwood, Staff Writer~

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