At the end of the more than two-week federal government shutdown in 2013, the U.S. Treasury cut checks on the average of $3,000 each to more than 850,000 government employees. That was nothing more than back wages and other lost expenses due to them — which alone cost the government $2.5 billion.
When it was all said and done for the 2013 shutdown, the battle over funding for the Affordable Care Act sucked some $24 billion from the American economy, according to financial companies at the time. That was more than $1 billion a day, all because Congress and the executive branch couldn’t complete what we sent them to Washington to do — keep our government running, and keep it running strong.
For Congress and the White House, the lives of not only those who dedicate their lives to public service, but every American that benefits from that service, are continually used as pawns in budgetary face-offs spanning everything from defense funding, to foreign aid, to welfare spending, and the most recent reason for the shutdown — President Trump’s mostly useless wall separating the United States from Mexico.
All of our borders should be secured, and we should work to secure all access points into this country. But a wall?
Illegal immigration is a problem in this country, but it’s primarily based on the roadblocks our government places in allowing people to come into this country legally. It’s so cumbersome that it’s just not practical, and people who choose to make America home will find any way they can to not only get here, but become productive members of society.
The sad part is that a wall would do little to curb illegal immigration. The Center for Migration Studies of New York estimates that 44 percent of undocumented people in this country are not those who snuck over the border from Mexico, but instead entered the country by plane after legally obtaining a travel visa. When the visa expired, however, they simply stayed.
How would a wall have stopped them?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates that, at least as of 2015, there were 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, making up 3 percent of the population. But 80 percent of those immigrants — that’s 9.6 million — have been in the United States since at least 2005, according to FactCheck.org.
In fact, only 6 percent of the existing illegal population entered the country between 2010 and 2015, DHS reports. That’s 720,000 people, or 144,000 a year — about the size of Syracuse.
Does that sound like a crisis?
We have to curb illegal immigration in the country. But we do it by creating manageable processes that make sense giving immigrants a path to residency and citizenship. We don’t close our borders.
And we certainly don’t close our government just so one president can end a practice dating back to before this country was a country, and what has always made America what it is: A country of immigrants, built by immigrants.