Federal workers and military families throughout the country breathed a sigh of relief as congressional Democrats and Republicans agreed to end the short-lived government shutdown, but the result was more of a delay than a solution. As we are likely to again be staring into the abyss of another shutdown in a few weeks, it’s worthwhile to examine what is really involved here and who is being hurt by it. The answers paint an unflattering picture of those who are all too happy to make Americans suffer for the benefit of those who have no legal right to be in the country.
By now most of us have seen the script the media plays with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients: We are told that they are the best and brightest of America. High school valedictorians and gainfully employed workaholics.
While some in the DACA population may fit those descriptions, there are many others who are no longer children, and who are dependents rather than contributors. More importantly, they are all — to use a term that has been demonized but is still the correct legal terminology — illegal aliens. Appeals to emotionalism have blurred that distinction, but lost in the debate is the impact that government shutdowns have on American citizens, the people who are legally in the country and whom our political leaders were elected to serve.
While news outlets portray government shutdowns as a game of political chicken, which in some ways they are, many Americans face hard consequences as a result. The Trump administration took steps to lessen the impact this time, but shutdowns undeniably cause hardship. Families of those in our military who made the ultimate sacrifice see their death benefits halted. Active duty military personnel are required to show up for work but are not paid. That’s a grossly unfair burden on military families who are not serving for high pay in the first place. There are also thousands of federal workers in Washington and beyond whose lives are thrown into chaos as they are mere collateral damage in the games being played on Capitol Hill.
If those forcing a shutdown were doing it in the best interests of their constituents, one could almost understand their strategy. That is not the case in the most recent shutdown or the one that may likely follow it on Feb. 8. Simply put, amnesty supporters are more than willing to cause disruption on behalf of people who are not citizens of this country. Granting them amnesty, while staunchly opposing real border security, would serve as a powerful magnet for more foreign nationals to illegally enter the country. Rewarding bad behavior is almost a guarantee that more of it will follow.
An important part of the pro-amnesty messaging strategy has been to suggest that a majority of Americans support their cause. That is a misrepresentation of the truth. A recent Harvard-Harris poll found that while there is sympathy for the plight of DACA recipients, a solid majority wants overall immigration totals to be reduced and based more on merit and skill than on lotteries and family connections. A fair question for shutdown backers is that since they are clearly advocating against the will of the American people, who exactly do they represent?
The Trump administration labeled this recent government shutdown as “politically manufactured” and those who authored it “obstructionist losers.” Since the administration was widely seen as winning the last standoff, those seeking an open borders immigration policy would be wise next time not to use thousands of federal workers, military families and our faith in the government as pawns in the process.
Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.
Also published at: Brian Lonergan, Federal shutdown illustrates how Democrats prioritize lawbreakers over Americans, The Hill, Jan. 29, 2018