Make Trump own the shutdown over his ill-advised border wall

It seems the country is headed for a government shutdown, but it's not due to any kind of real national or international crisis.

Rather, it's over a Trump temper tantrum as he is hell bent on getting funding for his ill-advised, waste-of-taxpayer-money, unwanted border wall. After all, it helped get him elected with his far-right, anti-immigrant base of voters.


While there are many reasons Democrats should stand strong and not acquiesce to Trump on this, they need to espouse the truth about how they have better handled immigration and border security and have made the country safer in comparison to Republicans.

While the president lies regularly, facts and truth still matter to the American people. The rule of law, sensible governance and keeping the country secure are also of utmost importance.

The flow of undocumented immigrants to the U.S. peaked in 2007, under President George W. Bush, when the number living in the U.S. was 12.2 million. It has been in decline ever since.  

Under President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaButtigieg draws fresh scrutiny, attacks in sprint to Iowa The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley Kerry endorses Biden in 2020 race: He 'can beat Donald Trump' MORE, the flow of undocumented immigrants and those caught on the U.S.-Mexico border went down dramatically, while the number of people who were removed from the country during his tenure increased.

In fact, to his and Democrats’ chagrin, he earned the nickname “Deporter in Chief” because he was fulfilling the congressionally mandated numbers of removals the administration had to meet each year. He was widely criticized for this, and they re-prioritized removals to focus on dangerous criminals and border-crossers from Mexico.

President Obama got the border under control. Immigration from Mexico became a net-negative as workers found jobs in a growing middle-class economy, which the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) helped create.

Then another problem reared its head. While the number of immigrants coming from Mexico decreased dramatically, the number of crossers coming from Central America, fleeing failed governments and gang violence, started to spike.

We saw this even in the last years of the Obama administration as they faced a dramatic increase in the arrivals of unaccompanied minors at our southern border.

But Obama focused on trying to treat the root of the problem, working with Central American officials to get the word out about the dangers of the trip north. He also attempted to streamline the asylum process so that those who had a legitimate asylum claim could stay here safely and build a better life for their families.

Obama and the Democrats even supported up to $40 billion in border investments in the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed in 2013. That bill was killed by lack of action in the Republican-led House.

When Trump came into office, he inherited a much more successful, albeit unheralded, border strategy. Trump tainted the truth of what was happening at the border in order to inject fear in his base of voters and get them to support his xenophobic strategies. It worked and he got elected.

Do we need to do more to continue stabilizing the border? Of course.

But Trump has used the burgeoning problem that is ongoing in Central America to further his own political agenda and has not focused on solving the problem.

We saw this in the now-famed televised meeting Trump had with incoming House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments Bloomberg: Trump should be impeached On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.) in the Oval Office. Trump falsely claimed that the Department of Homeland Security recently apprehended 10 terrorists. That is an outright lie.

Democrats must use facts to make their well-supported case that the wall is not the solution and that they know how to secure the border because they are the ones who have actually done it before.

The Central American migrants are not a security threat to America. The real security threat, which Trump and his administration have yet to acknowledge, is the spike in homegrown domestic terrorism.

Is there an issue we need to deal with to help these Central American countries? Absolutely. It is a problem Democrats need to acknowledge and then put forth sensible solutions such as partnerships with these ailing countries and investments to ensure gang violence can be dealt with.

We need real leadership, which we are not getting from Trump. It seems he would rather have this problem exist in order to scare his voters into supporting him again.


Democrats must help provide the leadership and the solutions needed like they have in the past. History, coupled with Trump’s childish and dangerous approach to border security, puts Democrats in a position to do something bold for the country.

They should not budge on the border wall and make Trump own a shutdown if he insists on that ill-fated action.

Next year, Democrats should tell the real story of immigration, propose a comprehensive immigration bill and make Trump and the Republicans face facts.

The American public has grown tired of a president who is unfit, inept and corrupt, who's willing to shutdown the government to get his way. Who will Republicans stand with then?

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.