Politics

Border Security Through National Insecurity

Image of Trump's border security wall
Image from Trump's Border Wall Tweet (Dec 21, 2018)
Guy Nave
Written by Guy Nave

Everyone in America is talking about border security. While almost everyone agrees that ensuring border security is important, President Trump and members of Congress are divided over the best ways of providing border security. The fight over how best to provide border security has culminated in a partial shutdown of the American government.

While most of the conversations regarding border security revolve around the issue of protecting Americans and making America safe, a partial shutdown of the American government harms Americans and makes America less safe.

The current shutdown directly impacts and harms 800,000 American workers who will be denied a paycheck during the holiday season, a time, unfortunately, when few people can financially afford to be without a paycheck.

Because many Americans operate with a distrust of government, we often talk about government shutdowns in abstract detached ways. While many Americans talk about “government” as the enemy of average Americans, it is important to realize that as of 2015 nearly 29 million Americans were employed by federal, state and local government. Most of these employees are average Americans who, in many ways, are working to protect and keep America safe.

While the current government shutdown is a partial shutdown, the nearly 800,000 American workers who will not receive a paycheck represent 800,000 families, which translates into more than 2.5 million Americans. While border security is important, it should not come at the cost of the financial security and well-being of more than 2.5 million Americans.

In addition to the 2.5 million Americans directly impacted by a partial government shutdown, the safety and well-being of millions of more Americans are impacted as a result of the shutdown. American safety will be directly impacted as federal law enforcement and correctional officers from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and thousands of other law enforcement and correctional officers will be furloughed or forced to work without pay.

As a result of forcing a government shutdown, as many as 54,000 employees from Customs and Border Protection — the agents who are currently working to secure the southern U.S. border — will be forced to work without compensation. How can President Trump and members of Congress claim to care about border security while forcing Americans who work to stop illegal immigration to work without compensation?

During one of the busiest travel times of the year, airport security around the nation will be impacted as more 53,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees will be furloughed or forced to work without compensation.

The safety and well-being of countless millions of Americans will be impacted as employees from nine federal departments—including Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce, and Department of Agriculture—will be furloughed or forced to work without compensation.

While President Trump and members of Congress may talk about the importance of our nation’s security, they need to demonstrate the importance by never allowing a shutdown of the federal government to be an option.

This is the third partial government shutdown during 2018 (the most in one year and the most during the tenure of any U.S. President other than Ronald Reagan).

America’s security should never be placed at risk and or in jeopardy because the President of the United States and members of Congress cannot agree. And it should definitely never be something that the President and/or members of Congress are “proud” to do simply in order to get what they want.

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About the author

Guy Nave

Guy Nave

Guy Nave is a professor of religion at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. His research focuses on the topics of Christianity, religion and social justice, the social construction of religious meaning, and race-religion-and-politics. Professor Nave is currently researching the power, politics, and meaning behind the rhetoric of "change."

He is the author of several articles and book chapters, and he served as a New Testament Greek translator for the 2011 Common English Bible. His commentary on 2 Corinthians is published in the African American New Testament Commentary, and his book, The Role and Function of Repentance in Luke-Acts has been identified as “the standard scholarly work on repentance in the New Testament.”

Guy Nave received his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Yale University. In addition to his blog posts here, he is a frequent contributor to Sojourners Magazine's online "Commentary" blog series.