Congress, White House remain far apart on border issues, so no end to shutdown

White House meeting with congressional leaders earlier this month only highlighted the deep philsophical divide over immigration. (White House photo)

Tribal conference this week will examine border issues with tribes and Mexico, Canada and Russia

The president made an offer that he knew Democrats would refuse. But the idea was not to win Democrats into supporting his border wall, but to make that party look bad for not negotiating.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, have said the same thing throughout this debate: Open the government, then negotiate about the border wall.

But this dispute, which is growing into a Constitutional Crisis, is because both sides see this as a matter of right and wrong.

In his statement Saturday, President Trump said: “To every member of Congress: Pass a bill that ends this crisis. To every citizen: Call Congress and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border. This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfill our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a news release: “Democrats were hopeful that the president was finally willing to re-open government and proceed with a much-needed discussion to protect the border.”

But here’s the rub. The president only has one position, support for a border wall. So any deal would have to make that so. That means he would have to come up with a plan that Democrats could sell to their constituents. Saturday’s plan did not do that. But it did bring out the opposition from anti-immigration groups that do not want so-called Dreamers (people who live in the United States without authorization because they arrived as children).

On Sunday -- on Twitter, of course -- the president tried to walk the line between these two ideas. He tweeted: “No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”

What is that bigger deal? Vice President Mike Pence was asked on CBS Face the Nation and he replied: “Well I'll- I'll let the president's words stand.” Margaret Brennan followed up, “Do you know what he meant?”

The vice president said, “at the end. Yes, I do.”

Before Christmas, when it was still a Republican-controlled House and Senate, the president (led by Vice President Pence) agreed to a plan to fund the government. But then after talk radio attacked the deal, the president demanded an additional $5.7 billion for a border wall.

The impression that the president wanted, at the time, at least, was that begin construction of a coast-to-coast nearly two thousand mile wall of concrete. Then it was steel slats. And on Saturday President Donald J. Trump said the $5.7 billion would be used to fund a steel barrier system in the priority areas cited by Border Patrol. The White House said this is in addition to the more than 115 miles of barriers already built, replaced, or contracted under President Trump.

On Sunday Pence estimated that wall at roughly two hundred and thirty four miles. “It's not from sea to sea,” he said. “It's two hundred thirty four miles of additional steel barrier.”

But the country does not know the answer to the president’s Twitter riddle -- because there is a such a wide difference between those who see immigration as an evil and those who see it as part of the country’s history and its future.

And from Indian Country there is an added dimension: A debate that begins with those who dismiss the border as a colonial line ranging to those who are roughly aligned with the president. Or in the middle of those two poles.

Next week in Tucson tribal leaders on border with Mexico, Canada and Russia, will meet in Tucson to talk about “the mobility of indigenous people, all while securing tribal lands and the United States. The Summit will develop a Border Tribes proposal to facilitate indigenous border crossing into traditional territories.”

Normally this meeting would include government-to-government consultation. But that was before the shutdown.

A resolution passed last June by the National Congress of American Indians called for an improvement in border crossing policies and practices for tribal citizens. It said governments should develop an “Indigenous visa category that would provide for travel to the United States for cultural, religious, traditional, and related tribal purposes, improve recognition of the execution of the Jay Treaty, and provide better cultural training for border patrol agents.

But in the meantime decades of immigration policy remains at the heart of the dispute about funding the government.

Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, said “President Trump didn’t come to the table, instead he came up with a false compromise and pulled Dreamers onto the list of people he’s holding hostage for his fantasy. It’s only fair that President Trump signs the bill The House passed on day one to pay federal workers and contractors, then we can discuss border security. When I talk to families in New Mexico, they tell me about the need for quality public education, good paying jobs, and access to quality health care — the wall is not a solution to those concerns.”

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, praised the president. “President Trump outlined a real compromise to end the partial government shutdown, demonstrating his willingness to negotiate in good faith. The plan includes things both sides agree need to be solved,” said Cole. “It would provide legal status for DACA recipients—something that Democrats have long demanded. In addition, it would provide money for physical barriers, technology, infrastructure and personnel that are much needed to secure our southern border. Finally, it would immediately reopen the government, so negotiations on other matters of national importance can proceed.

“Thus far, Democrats have been determined to put political fights ahead of the critical need to strengthen border security. President Trump is clearly trying to negotiate in good faith with Democratic leadership in order to end this painful government shutdown. For the good of the entire country, I hope Democrats finally come to their senses, work with Republicans and the president to enact real solutions and finally reopen the government.”

Before Christmas, when it was still a Republican-controlled House and Senate, the president (led by Vice President Pence) agreed to a plan to fund the government. But then after talk radio attacked the deal, the president demanded an additional $5.7 billion for a border wall.

The impression that the president wanted, at the time, at least, was that begin construction of a coast-to-coast nearly two thousand mile wall of concrete. Then it was steel slats. And on Saturday President Donald J. Trump said the $5.7 billion would be used to fund a steel barrier system in the priority areas cited by Border Patrol. The White House said this is in addition to the more than 115 miles of barriers already built, replaced, or contracted under President Trump.

On Sunday Pence estimated that wall at roughly two hundred and thirty four miles. “It's not from sea to sea,” he said. “It's two hundred thirty four miles of additional steel barrier.”

Democrats have other solutions, such as increasing the number of immigration judges. Most of the border “crisis” is families showing up at the border asking for asylum. The response from Democrats range from added port infrastructure to more hiring of customs and border patrol agents.

Text of the president’s fact sheet on border security.

Text of the speaker’s statement.

Mark Trahant is editor of Indian Country Today. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Follow him on Twitter - @TrahantReports

Email: mtrahant@IndianCountrytoday.com

Indian Country Today interactive spreadsheets:

Impact of shutdown on tribal communities

Impact on individuals, nonprofits

Previous stories:

Mark Trahant talks #GovernmentShutdown and Indian Country on Democracy Now

The State of the Union postponed; speaker says first end the government shutdown

Congressional hearing looks at the impact of shutdown on Indian Country

President walks away from a Republican with a plan to reopen government

Waiting for a thaw in Washington

Out of touch? White House says unpaid workers are 'better off'

Tribal leaders say government closure puts citizens in jeopardy

Government Shutdown: Tribes suffer job losses, bad roads, no healthcare access

The National Congress of American Indians is the owner of Indian Country Today and manages its business operations. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently as a digital journalism enterprise.

Comments (2)
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blu2cloud
blu2cloud

Trump is not now and never has been pro America. He doesn't care about the environment: land, air, sea, or water. He doesn't care about humanity: adult, children, seniors, indigenous or not indigenous. He doesn't care about our economy. He is not a president - he is a rich corrupt business man holding a gun to America trying to rob America for 5 billion dollars!



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