Careening toward the end of the year, facing a rare rebuke by Fox News, continuing pressure from the Mueller investigation, and the stunning, sobering resignation of Gen. Jim Mattis, the president has shut down the government.

We know, a strong immigration policy is vital to our national security--including a thorough vetting process, defined pathways to citizenship, and well-trained immigration officers. But forcing a government shutdown over funding for a border wall, as the Trump administration has done, ironically and immorally jeopardizes that which it claims to defend.


This shutdown stems from the administration’s demand for an additional $5 billion to construct a border wall. Significantly more than they asked for last year -- money that still hasn’t been spent. 

The president’s shutdown affects roughly 25 percent of the government—that’s 800,000 employees, furloughing some, while forcing others to work without pay – threatening the livelihoods of American families during the holiday season. What’s more, a shutdown is counterintuitive to the mission of securing our border: this shutdown will affect tens of thousands border control employees.

What’s true is that the Republican-controlled Congress does not have the votes for an expensive and ineffective wall. Even members of the president’s own party recognize that his wall is costly and ineffective. Last Thursday night, eight Republican members of the House voted against the $5 billion package to fund President TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media MORE’s demand for a border wall. On Friday, that bill received formidable resistance in the Senate, where Republicans do not have the ability to unilaterally pass this measure without Democratic support. 

And yet this White House is willing to shutdown the government, willing to destabilize our border security. It is puzzling and irresponsible for this administration to claim dedication to a secure border and pursue this course of action.

Imagine the immediate consequences: forcing tens of thousands of U.S. border patrol agents and their families into uncertainty during the holiday season and beyond. Moreover, a shutdown puts the American people at risk. We need our Department of Homeland Security fully staffed at all times, especially during our busiest travel season. 

We all care about a secure border. Yet bullishly forcing a government shutdown through tantrum and scare tactics is not a solution to our refugee or immigration dilemma. A shutdown does not make the border more secure; it makes us less secure. And it does not protect vulnerable refugees -- but places them at greater risk.  

Rather, we should remember the poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus at the base of our Statue of Liberty: “From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome… Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Our problems are much more than wins and losses for a base, more than likes and retweets. This shutdown is a regrettable end to a chaotic year under Republican leadership.

America is better than haphazard policies that lack rationality and compassion. The public has demanded and we must deliver better leadership.

We are facing a whole new colossus. But there is hope in a new year and a new Congress -- that under new leadership, we will seize the opportunity and rekindle the “beacon-hand [that] glows world-wide welcome.”

Scanlon represents Pennsylvania’s 5th District and Dean is the representative-elect for Pennsylvania’s 4th District.