How far the border wall will split the country?

How far the border wall will split the country?

Tales of the longest government shutdown in the U.S. modern history

As  the shutdown surpasses three weeks on its path to officially become the longest government shutdown in the modern U.S. history, the more tensions are heating up. No agreement has been reached between Democrats and Republicans on Thursday. Rather, it was a loud disagreement, which led some politicians to go as far as to announce it as a complete absence of hope.

“No wall, no deal.”

“I see no way forward,” said South Carolina Senator, Republican Lindsey Graham.

While being a strong ally of President Trump, Graham was one of those trying to reach a compromise. One of the compromises offered by the Democrats was a deal where along with the wall there would be certain legislative allowances for undocumented immigrants who are already in the country. Particularly, those who are called “dreamers” – young people who arrived in the U.S. as children with their families, and were until recently protected by the Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was repealed by Trump in 2017.

However, as it was later stated by VP Mike Pence, there were no compromises. “No wall, no deal,” he said in front of the cameras.

The state of national emergency: a bluff, or a risky way out?

January 10th, on the eve of the 21st day of the government shutdown, President Trump made a visit to McAllen, Texas, at the Mexican border. This spot was not picked randomly – McAllen scores the biggest number of illegal border crossings in the U.S.

Trump started his speech with praising border patrol and ICE, specifically.

“Border patrol, ICE, and law enforcement – you take so much heat, so much abuse from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. I want to say you have a friend with this administration, and you have a friend with me. Nobody does a better job,” Trump said in his opening remarks.

Notably, the speech has taken place in a room full of cash, guns, and confiscated narcotics.

Introducing his ‘winning position’ on the shutdown, Trump has also made it clear that if he needs to declare national emergency to fund the wall, he will do it. According to the sources close to the president, the only reason he hasn’t done it yet is because execution of the emergency power would bring the risks of legal actions taken against it, which tend to be successful.

In case the emergency powers are executed, the funds for building the border wall will be taken out of the national emergency fund, and military would be able to start building it.

Most of Shutdown’s ‘hostages’ are not illegals

While Trump continues ‘playing the ball’ with the Dems, the country is slowly but surely being torn apart. As part of the shutdown, President Trump has suspended federal workers’ compensation, and denied the scheduled annual raise. It comes as no surprise that the more uncertainty there’s in the air, the more devastated federal workers become. This Thursday, rallies began across the country. In Chicago, protesters gathered at the Federal Plaza.

“Federal workers should not be held hostage to a border wall. Federal workers should not be forced to work without pay,” said Matt Muchowski, district office manager of the The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

“If a wall is not going to be agreed upon, then there is no negotiating, and that makes no sense,” added Jewel Spenser, who’ve witnessed five government shutdowns during her 33 years at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Creative solutions: YouTube, GoFundMe, raising money for… Shovels

Amidst the rising tensions during the shutdown, and inability to reach a compromise, Trump has set up a YouTube advertising campaign, where a brief, 42-second video ties up “terrorists, violent criminals, and child traffickers” with the absence of the wall.

To advance and expand “the wall movement,” a GoFundMe page was created, called “We The People Will Build The Wall.” As of press time on Thursday evening, over $20 million have been raised out of a $1 billion goal. Notably, a lot of donors prefer to not make their real names public, with some of them using the names of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The opponents of the border wall also don’t seem to waste their time. Another project, for those who would like to dig a tunnel under the wall, was also created on the GoFundMe website.

“To the thousands of people raising money for a wall…..I’m raising money to supply tunnel builders with shovels,” wrote Rigo Torres, the creator of the movement.

Torres admits on the page that in reality all the money will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union’s programs aimed at reuniting families torn apart at the border.

“Let’s help these kids and parents be together and spend time with family, and not in detention centers,” Torres said.

When will the government reopen?

As uncertain as it sounds, there are no solutions or even compromises in place right now for the government to reopen. Both Democrats and Republicans are furious and firm in their positions in terms of the wall.

Moreover, consensus or even compromise cannot be reached between both parties at this point. Trump has stated he would not open the government until the funding for the wall is secured. Democrats, in their turn, insist on opening the government in order to negotiate. As ironic as it is, many experts see the state of national emergency as the only feasible way to “stop the bleeding” at this point of time. The government will reopen, and in that case the building of the wall will most likely start. However, that decision will be challenged, bringing up potential legal consequences for the president.

Chicago News will continue to monitor the situation, check back for updates on our website at

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