Dondero: Stalling over the wall is harmful and pointless
President Donald Trump and the GOP are playing with fools' gold on the "partial" government shutdown over the wall. Who will this hurt? As usual, lower-income citizens who depend on their tax returns for paying the bills and 800,000 federal employees.
As for walls, they don't work. At ports of entry, they make some sense, but with a 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico, the wall is delusional "groupthink." It's a waste of money, but effective political rhetoric for Trump's base — the same people hurt by the IRS slowdown!
But to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "All we have to fear is fear itself."
Those seeking asylum are not drug mules and criminals, but families fleeing persecution from their own government, warlords and/or drug cartels. They seek a better life, just like millions of immigrants to the USA have over the years.
We offered asylum to victims of Soviet oppression from the Eastern Bloc nations during the Cold War, we offered asylum for those fleeing Fidel Castro's Cuba and we offered asylum to the Southeast Asian "boat people" fleeing Vietnam after the fall of Saigon.
We should do the same for the latest immigrants fleeing oppression, given our immigrant history.
Some historic walls of infamy that never worked: the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, the Maginot Line. In a global world, no such barriers can work anymore than they did in antiquity. Remember the Trojan War? They also deny us workers who can really make America "greater" again.
My concern is that the Democrats will overplay their hand on the shutdown "showdown." I'd offer Trump a phased-in wall plan over the next five years with rigorous congressional oversight, strict annual spending limits and annual program based reports — no $5 billion slush fund, just annual appropriations at $1 billion, fully vetted each fiscal year.
And the price for this compromise — just enough votes to pass a bill tied to complete amnesty for all DACA-eligible residents in the United States and those who've been deported, plus allowing asylum-seekers entrance into the USA, subject to judicial adjudication and protection in humane conditions while waiting for a hearing.
If Trump is defeated in 2020, then the new president-elect can assess spending on the wall, since there's no way it can be completed before the 2020 election.
Let's decouple the debate over the wall and funding the government. The American voters don't deserve to be held hostage on this issue.
Russ Dondero is a Forest Grove resident.
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