Trump’s Xenophobic Campaign Promise Is Holding The Government Hostage
On Friday morning, as the government shutdown entered its seventh day, President Trump tweet-stormed threats if Congress doesn’t fund a border wall. Trump threatened to “close the Southern Border” and to withdraw aid from Central American countries. He tweeted:
Fox News’ judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said last month that Trump can’t legally follow through with his threat to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump has vowed to continue his shutdown unless Congress accedes to his demand to fund a border wall. The shutdown affects 800,000 federal workers — many of whom are missing their paychecks.
On Thursday, the Trump Administration’s Office of Personnel Management tweeted advice to furloughed federal workers on how to explain their situation to creditors and landlords. The Office included sample letters, suggesting that they offer to perform chores in exchange for rent payments.
The president of the country’s largest federal workers’ union said, “This is not about a wall, this is about 800,000 real people with real families and real bills to pay.”
Trump claimed on Thursday, without evidence, that most federal workers are Democrats. He tweeted:
Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border. Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking,Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country. Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2018
Democrats have funded border security, but Trump has not spent the money available. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CA) tweeted: “the 2017/2018 budgets gave Trump billions for border upgrades. He’s spent ALMOST NONE of it. 6%.”
Trump has continued to demonize immigrants while ignoring their plight and the humanitarian crisis faced by Central American asylum-seekers. Instead, the president has derided protections for immigrants coming from what he called “shithole countries.”
As Amelia Frank-Vitale wrote for Fortune, “I live in Honduras, where people are in constant fear of being murdered. It’s no wonder they join caravans.”
Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered the Trump Administration to stop using a June order from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to expel immigrants. The judge’s ruling allows victims of violence who entered the U.S. without documentation to be eligible to stay and apply for asylum. Seeking asylum at the border is not illegal, but turning asylum seekers away is illegal.
Fox’s Napolitano said that migrants who have a “bonafide asylum claim, meaning you are escaping a government that is pursuing you, or escaping a government that is failing to enforce basic law and order, can enter the U.S.” He added, “The president doesn’t want to hear this but it’s the law.”
Candidate Trump campaigned on the promise of building the border wall; he assured his supporters that Mexico would pay for it. His fear-based narratives about immigrants have been debunked, including his claims of their criminality.
Soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called Trump a “fear monger.” In an interview with USA Today over the weekend, Pelosi said, “He talked about terrorists coming in over that particular border, which wasn’t so. He talked about people bringing in diseases and all the rest of that, which wasn’t so.” She added, “He’s using scare tactics that are not evidence-based, and it’s wrong.”
According to a new Reuters poll, only 35 percent of people surveyed support funding the wall. More people blame Trump, not Democrats, for the government shutdown (47-33 percent). And only 25 percent support shutting down the government over the wall issue.
But Republican leaders in Congress stand with Trump. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tweeted today:
To Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats:
No Wall Money, No Deal.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) December 28, 2018
Trump’s fixation on funding the wall is hinged to his 2020 re-election campaign — and designed to appeal to his xenophobic base.
The Trump Make America Great Again Committee — a joint fundraising effort of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee — is soliciting signatures on a petition: “TELL THE SENATE: BUILD THE WALL.”
The GOP tweeted: “Sign the OFFICIAL Build the Wall petition & tell Senate Dems that Americans want border security!”
The GOP petition, co-sponsored by Trump for President, Inc., says: “Democrats are making it clear that they value ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS MORE THAN HARD-WORKING AMERICANS! NONSENSE!” and, “if we don’t have a big beautiful wall protecting our southern border, we won’t have a country.”
On Thursday, Trump hinted at his 2020 campaign. He tweeted:
This isn’t about the Wall, everybody knows that a Wall will work perfectly (In Israel the Wall works 99.9%). This is only about the Dems not letting Donald Trump & the Republicans have a win. They may have the 10 Senate votes, but we have the issue, Border Security. 2020!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2018
On the eve of the shutdown, Trump’s re-election committee sent a text message to supporters, inviting them to become “Official Build the Wall Members,” though benefits of membership aren’t clear.
“Dems refuse to FUND THE WALL!” the text read. “They don’t care about your safety! FIGHT BACK!” The message links to a website paid for by Trump for President, Inc., where visitors can donate up to $2,700 to Trump’s campaign, according to Business Insider.
Journalist Sam Stein tweeted:
Trump campaign fundraising off of the shutdown pic.twitter.com/QmSXkEAeo6
— Sam Stein (@samstein) December 27, 2018
The president’s supporters continue to exert pressure on Trump to build the wall.
Brian Kolfage, disabled Iraq War veteran and organizer of the “Trump Wall” GoFundMe campaign, has supplemented his fundraising effort with a petition website. His GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $17 million, though it is unclear how the U.S. would get the money.
Kolfage tweeted: “The home of our campaign is here!” His website WeFundTheWall.com urges visitors to sign a petition: “LETS [sic] GET 100 MILLION SIGNATURES DEMANDING OUR GOVERNMENT FUND AND BUILD THE WALL!”
In recent days, Kolfage’s background has come under scrutiny.
NBC News reported last week that Kolfage previously ran a network of fake news websites, which Facebook shut down. And BuzzFeed News reported that “Kolfage has also spearheaded and shaped a spate of right-wing media sites that have peddled conspiracy theories and false stories, prompting Facebook and Twitter to remove some of his pages and profiles.”
On Thursday, Kolfage appeared on Fox News’ Lou Dobbs Tonight. He said of his wall campaign, “It shows the resolve of Americans for what they want and what they are able to do when they come together.”
Fox News’ opinion hosts have fueled Trumpland xenophobia. Fox’s Tucker Carlson has come under fire for assailing immigrants with a disinformation campaign. Carlson has falsely said immigrants make America “poorer and dirtier and more divided.” Many of Carlson’s advertisers have responded by boycotting his show.
While distribution of the money given to Kolfage’s GoFundMe remains in question, a nonprofit group helping migrants who are seeking asylum will benefit from counter-wall campaigns.
A GoFundMe campaign, “Ladders to Get Over Trump’s Wall,” started by transgender Army veteran and activist Charlotte Clymer, has raised more than $150,000 for RAICES, a nonprofit supporting refugees who are seeking asylum. Writer Luke O’Neil started a “Build a Giant Escalator Over the Wall” GoFundMe page, with donations also benefiting RAICES.
As I previously wrote for Rantt Media, my great-grandmother came to the U.S. when she was 14 years old to escape persecution in Europe. Her sister and their family remained in Europe and were killed in the Holocaust. In my relatives’ memory, I vowed never to be silent about the oppression of any tyrannized people.
As San Francisco Bay Area Fox-affiliate KTVU reported, “Buying a url to sound like the opposition is a classic activist move, [Levine] said, adding that she was happy to ‘hijack’ the right-wing movement.”
We just found out it was @nancylevine who did built this clever site.
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) December 21, 2018
Over the Christmas holiday, Trump ignored the tragic desperation of migrants, and continued to tweet about the wall.
While ICE dumped hundreds of migrants at a bus station in El Paso, Texas, on Christmas Eve, Trump tweeted:
I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security. At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
He followed up with a tweet:
I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas. We are already building and renovating many miles of Wall, some complete. Democrats must end Shutdown and finish funding. Billions of Dollars, & lives, will be saved!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
Walter Shaub, former Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, responded to the president, tweeting:
The White House doesn’t handle these procurements, the government is still in the midst of the Trump Shutdown, the procurement officials were not working on Christmas Eve, and Congress didn’t approve the funding. So this tweet is either a lie or an admission to violations of law.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) December 25, 2018
On Christmas morning, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that the people of San Diego had asked for a wall. Without offering evidence, he said, “People were walking through Mexico right into San Diego, right over people’s front lawns by the hundreds, by the thousands. And they came to us, they asked for a wall.”
During his surprise visit to troops in Iraq on Wednesday, Trump stayed on-message. “I mean, we’re going to have a wall,” Trump said, according to a White House transcript of his remarks at Al Asad Air Base. “We’re going to have safety. We need safety for our country, even from this standpoint.”
On Christmas day, a second asylum-seeking child died while in custody of U.S. border authorities. 8-year-old Felipe Alonzo-Gomez became ill and perished while held in detention in New Mexico. He was with his father, traveling to the U.S. from Guatemala. Earlier this month, 7-year old Guatemalan Jakelin Caal died while in custody of Border Patrol. Pelosi has announced that Democrats in Congress will launch an investigation into the children’s deaths and conditions at the border.
On Christmas, a boy was killed by our immigration system, which routinely abuses & dehumanizes migrants.
People are put into ice boxes, tear gassed, detained for months, refused medical service.
It’s no wonder children die. https://t.co/FmRvArITTe
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) December 25, 2018
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