Students react to the government shutdown

President Trump and Congress are faced with a resumption of a government shutdown that started at the end of December unless Congress presents the President a budget bill with $5.7 billion for a border wall—which they refuse to do. As a result of the historic shutdown, nearly 800,000 federal employees—from the National Parks Service to the Coast Guard, and to Food and Drug Administration—had their pay and work schedules affected, leading to many impacts of social concerns.

The turmoil resulting from the shutdown has led many to wonder if the wall is worth it. Students across the country have become particularly active in the national political climate after Donald Trump’s election and the March for Our Lives gun control protests, including students from MVRHS.

While Trump intended the wall as a means  of increasing national security, critics believe that it will be ineffective. Freshman Ingrid Moore drew upon historical precedent in her argument against it. “The wall is a bad idea,” she said. “Most walls throughout history have not worked, such as the great wall of China. Many immigrants will come in legally and overstay their visas.”

A report released in January by the Center of Immigration Studies of New York states that from 2016 to 2017, 62 percent of new, undocumented immigrants had overstayed their visas, compared to 38 percent who crossed the border illegally.

Junior Alex Rego not only opposes the border wall as a mechanism for national security, but also because of what the wall stands for. She said, “I believe that the idea of a wall between the United States and Mexico is inherently evil. I find it telling of a current resurgence of xenophobia, jingoism, and white supremacy.”

In their January report, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the five-week shutdown cost approximately $3 billion in unrecoverable economic activity and cost federal employees nearly $9 billion in lost compensation.

Alex said, “I believe that the shutdown is a crime committed against the American people, especially given that it cost the U.S. more than the proposed border wall.”

Conversely, senior Jason Davey expressed his support for President Trump and the wall. “It’s not like Trump’s asking for an outrageous amount of money for it, it’s a good investment to help secure our border,” he said. Jason believes the wall will greatly increase the effectiveness of border patrol agents’ efforts.

I’m not saying it’s perfect,” said Jason. “Nothing ever is. But it’s a good step to take.”

He believes that despite possible imperfections, the wall would still make America a safer place. “With a wall, they could have time to get to a situation and apprehend anyone attempting to enter illegally,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of border patrol agents want a wall. I think the wall would be helpful in keeping America a little bit safer.”

Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement in December 2018 that stated: “When [the DHS] installed a border wall in the Yuma Sector, we saw border apprehensions decrease by 90 percent. In San Diego, we saw on Sunday that dilapidated, decades-old barriers are not sufficient for today’s threat and need to be removed so new–up to 30-foot—wall sections can be completed.”

Freshman Bertrand Mullen believes that the process of obtaining funding for the wall is not worth it. He said, “I believe this process Donald Trump is going through to secure funding for the border wall is unnecessary and will cause more of a loss than gain. I think that a wall might help with illegal immigration, but overall it would hurt the country. America is a country built of immigrants, and the wall would just make us look worse to other countries.”

Regardless of the outcome on the border wall, delayed negotiations have increased the probability of a resumed shutdown at the end of the week, raising a question of ethics: Is coming out on top in the shutdown negotiations worth the continued suffering of American citizens?