The first thing that needs to be said about President Trump’s decision to sign a measure re-opening part of the federal government without getting money for the wall he demanded is that his experience as a New York businessman was no help. Perhaps he failed to recognize that Democrats are the party of government and no one guards the power, cost and perks of government better than they do.
As long as Democrats stuck together — and they did (Republicans should learn a lesson) — he was bound to lose. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were justified in their smirking reaction. Mr. Schumer bragged, “This agreement endorses our position.”
Of course a wall or barrier or something is needed to stem the tide of those who enter the country illegally, and some border patrol agents agree. “Absolutely” helpful, Brian Hastings, a U.S. Border Patrol chief of law enforcement operations, said back in November, as the immigrant caravan inched its way toward our border. Aren’t these agents on the front lines more knowledgeable than career politicians playing their annoying games in Washington?
Does anyone expect promised “negotiations” between Senate and House Republicans these next three weeks to produce anything that successfully contributes to real border security? Democrats, flushed with at least a short-term victory, are not about to anger their base by compromising, and some in the Republican base are upset by the president’s so-called “cave” to Democrat demands.
In a Rose Garden announcement of his decision to re-open government, the president held out the possibility of declaring a national emergency if Democrats continue to refuse funding for his barrier wall. We know where that will lead, don’t we? Democrats will likely go to a liberal federal judge, probably named by President Obama, and get a stay on the order. Any appeal process could take months, adding more fuel to the chaos stoking anger among many on the left and the right.
One way to get Democrats to focus might be to steer those entering illegally with criminal backgrounds to the states and districts where members of Congress who oppose the wall reside. Cynical, I know, but in Washington, since the 2016 election, cynicism reigns supreme. There are solutions to almost any problem, but it appears politicians prefer the immigration issue to run on as a means of raising money, garnering votes and harnessing power. It’s all about politicians and rarely about the rest of us, their claims about “the American people” notwithstanding.
Mr. Trump made building a wall (and getting Mexico to pay for it) the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign and the first half of his term. If it doesn’t happen, with or without the help of Congress, he must find another way to do it that the courts will allow and that his base will accept. If he doesn’t his re-election chances may be hurt, assuming Democrats don’t come up with a hard-left candidate.
Maybe the president will do all these things. I hope he does. The alternative is likely a socialist government offering high taxes and even more debt, which would end the economic boon that has benefited a record number of new U.S. workers.
The Republican National Committee released a statement that said: “Although this bill does not provide wall funding, President Trump remains firmly committed to securing funding during ongoing negotiations. President Trump will not budge on building the wall.”
Mrs. Pelosi remains just as committed not to fund a wall. The power center has shifted to her, no matter what some other House Democrats are saying about their support of a fence or other barrier. As of Friday she was still refusing to confirm a date for the State of the Union address. It’s all phony.
Each time I travel internationally I must go through immigration and customs at the airport. If I attempted to re-enter this or another country illegally, I would be arrested. What’s the difference when Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Schumer and many other Democrats won’t stop non-citizens from sneaking into America?
• Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist. His latest book is “What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America” (Zondervan, 2014).