More than a tantrum

Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Schumer doubles down in call for Trump to name coronavirus supply czar Trump lashes out at Schumer over call for supply czar MORE (D-N.Y.) and the media world were quick to label and mock President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE’s threat to shut down the government if Congress fails to fund his border wall as yet another to-be-expected un-presidential tantrum. Our narcissist-in-chief has, after all, made an art form of owning the national conversation by pointing the spotlight inevitably at himself.

Lost in this inside-the-beltway debate are the real stakes for real people. Funding Trump’s border wall isn’t about a wall — it’s a question of whether anyone can stand up to an agenda that seeks to tear families apart, deport people of color and attempt to keep America whiter, which is what the wall has come to represent to many.

Democrats standing up, fact-checking and drawing a line in the sand to protect America’s core values is praiseworthy. They should keep holding the line. On the other hand, Republicans have been more than missing in action. They are enabling this president and his agenda.


Voters overwhelmingly rejected Trump’s divisive and hateful politics in November. Yet, since then, Republicans have ducked and dodged and looked the other way.

How hard can it be to denounce risking the lives of millions of people and shutting down the entire government over funding for deportation forces and the absurd wall? In the modern Republican Party, apparently very hard.

Symbolically, the wall along the southern border signals to the Trump base that brown people belong on one side, and white people belong on the other. Realistically, the border wall means more families unable to see and hold each other, but worse, it means more money for an agency that has shown little regard for the lives of immigrants and refugees.

Even Republicans who are uncomfortable with these things have failed to summon the courage to do something about it.

More money for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will allow this agency to build more private prisons, hire more ICE agents, carry out more terrorizing raids, further militarize southern border communities, and separate more babies from their moms without a plan in place to reunite them. More. More. More.

We watched in horror as children were locked up in cages. Outrage boiled over across the country as images and audio of babies inconsolably calling out for their mamas made the news cycles. Soon after, thousands of families seeking asylum reached the southern border, but not before Trump’s theatrics led to more than 5,000 troops mobilized. Then, families were teargassed.

The Department of Homeland Security has transferred money around its agencies, even taking resources from FEMA, to pay for family separation at the border. There is little transparency into the conditions of the detention centers housing immigrant children and families. Border patrol agents killed an unarmed young Guatemalan woman — and justice was never served.

Trump wants $5 billion for a border wall. That’s $5 billion for an agency that has ripped apart the fabric of our nation. Budgets are moral documents that should reflect the values of our country. Are we going to be the country that refuses to right its wrongs? Or are we going to demand that our elected leaders uphold our Constitution?

Congress has a decision to make before the deadline to pass a spending bill expires on Dec. 21. Trump has been clear that he’s willing to shut down the government over the wall, but members of Congress must do right by our families and stop funding Trump’s hateful agenda and keep the government open.

Dorian Warren is the president of Community Change Action, a national social justice organization that builds the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change the policies and institutions that impact their lives.

Kica Matos is the Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at Community Change Action. She is also spokeswoman for FIRM Action, the nation’s largest immigrant-rights coalition, with grassroots organizations in 23 states fighting for immigrant rights at the local, state and federal level.