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Archive for January, 2019

The FY 2019 budget is $4.407 trillion.  Each trillion is a thousand billions. That means the FY 2019 budget equals 4,407 billions of dollars. Money has been separately appropriated to fund 3/4ths of the government’s operations. The remaining ¼ awaits an appropriation bill that must be approved by both houses of Congress.

The failure to come to an agreement on the unfunded portion of the government led to a partial government shutdown on 21 Dec 2018.  Most of the government, including, for example, the Department of Defense and entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, are unaffected by the shutdown.  Activities that are unfunded at this time include, among other things, the National Park Service, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, and the US Customs and Border Protection Agency (“CBP”).

President Trump is asking for $5.7 billion for border wall construction.   The wall is to be constructed in designated areas with the advice of CBP.   The lives, safety, reputations and oaths of the Border Protection Agents are at stake and they have been given their rightful place at the budget planning table.  The President’s request has their full support and input.

It’s worth looking at the order of magnitude of the President’s request.  It amounts to 0.0012934 of the total budget.  The Democrat Leadership, much of which hails from sanctuary states like California and New York, opposes the President’s request.  As a result of their opposition and the insistence of the President to protect national sovereignty and the safety and security of the people rightfully here, 800,000 federal employees (and an unknown number of civilian contractors) are now furloughed and out of work.  While the federal employees have been promised back-pay once the impasse is resolved, there is not such a guaranty for federal contractors.  Many of the employees and contractors have near term liquidity issues. How do they pay bills while the open-borders globalists do battle with the do-it-the-right-way nationalists?

The Democrat’s now control the House of Representatives and so long as they remain in lock-step, security wall funding will not pass.  The Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, but the 60-vote closture rule in the Senate means that, in the absence of invoking the “nuclear option”, the Republican majority in the Senate cannot even bring legislation to a vote without the help of their Democrat colleagues.  Without compromise or capitulation, the funding is imperiled, and national security, immigration enforcement, and the financial security of furloughed government employees and contractors are collateral damage to the differing political, economic and cultural visions for America held by the country’s major political parties.

Common sense supports building the wall in designated areas if only to allow more effective deployment of border patrol agents at the border.  Recently elected Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, has called the wall immoral, but that position is counter-intuitive and is losing traction both with the American public and with significant members of her own caucus.  Yet she insists that the Congress return to “regular order”, before she will allow consideration of funding proposals to support discrete elements of border security, though she has informed the President directly that she will never agree to any money to security wall construction.  Speaker Pelosi was first elected to Congress in 1987.  Senate Minority Leader Schumer was first elected to Congress  in 1993.  He was first elected to the Senate in 1998.

While they have been in Congress the number of illegal immigrants in America has increased ten-fold.  In all that time, there has been no success in addressing birthright citizenship, mandatory e-verify requiring employers to determine citizenship status of prospective employees, chain migration, sanctuary city, catch-and-release and asylum policies that all serve as open invitations to illegals to cross our borders with impunity.  Inexplicably, even Kate’s law – which intended to provide minimum mandatory periods of incarceration to any deportee who re-enters the United States — failed to pass the Congress.  Kate Steinle was shot to death in California as she walked with her father by an illegal immigrant who was deported five times before.

Anyone who understands “the art of the deal”, knows that once the leverage of the partial government shutdown is gone, so is the opportunity to fund the security wall.  This is not lost on Speaker Pelosi. We all know that what didn’t work yesterday, won’t work tomorrow.  My view of immigration policy and practice over the last 50 years is that there is no amount of money Congress won’t spend to address immigration as long as it is not spent effectively.  Congress has only been willing to pay for what won’t work.

At the time of this writing, the shutdown is in its 32nd day.   Assuming, conservatively, that the average weekly compensation for a federal worker is $1,000, that means that the lost revenue to the worker and the lost productivity to the government (not counting the impacts arising from federal contract workers) is valued in excess of $800 million per week.   Think about this.  Caravans of thousands of migrants are now heading to our borders to request asylum and asylum hearings.  We presently have a backlog of 800,000 asylum hearings.  Migrants are being schooled in magic words to say to pass the initial cut for asylum status.  They then are given admission to the United States pending their asylum hearing which is usually scheduled a year or so later.  Most do not appear for the hearing.

We are jeopardizing national security and causing unnecessary hardship on 800,000 people and their families while we quibble over a $5 billion request in a $4.407 trillion budget to build a border security wall that the security experts and Customs and Border Protection Agents – the boots on the ground – say they need.

Estimates put the number of illegal immigrants in the country at somewhere between 11 million and 30 million people.    Public assistance, state and federal education budgets, law enforcement and corrections budgets all are adversely affected. And perhaps worst of all, illicit, addictive and lethal drugs coming through our southern border are terrorizing every city and town in the country.

I would like to think that that Congress’ refusal to fund the President’s request is based on scholarship, science, practically, and lofty, heartfelt principles of compassionate patriotism, rather than personal and political animus, but I am not persuaded.

For those who hate President Trump and who don’t think walls work, I challenge you to put his idea to the test.  Give him the money to build the wall.  Let the best idea win.  If the wall doesn’t meaningfully stem the tide of illegal immigration, drug importation, and the sexual exploitation of minors and female migrants, we’ll all know in time for the next election.  Of course, we’ll know if it works as well.

The $5.7 billion dollars requested in this budget to build the security wall is akin to a rounding error given its more than $ 4 trillion size. For us not to test the theory that a security wall is an indispensable tile in the security system mosaic would be a grave, some would say, HUGE mistake.

written by:

DENNIS BRUCE PHIFER, ESQ.

MEMBER OF DE & DC BARS

Dated: 012119

 

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Phifer © 2019

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