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  1. Why is Trump Willing to Shut Down Gov't Over Mexican Wall, Despite Damage to Economy and Hardship to Millions of Americans? Roger Algase

    Update, April 24, 10:16 pm:

    The latest news reports say that Trump has expressed willingness to postpone his demands for funding the Mexican border Wall until September, 2017 (by which time possibly the entire idea might hopefully be quietly abandoned).

    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/0...er-wall-237552

    This apparent willingness to avoid a federal government shutdown could be a another one of the few but welcome signs of rationality winning out over ideology regarding immigration at the White House in the Donald Trump Era.

    My original comment appears below.

    Virtually all leaders in both parties agree that a government shutdown should be avoided at all costs because it would damage the economy (one estimate is to the tune of $24 billion) and cause great hardship to federal employees, veterans, and many other American citizens by interrupting essential government payments and services, as The Guardian reports:

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...nment-shutdown

    In view of the fact that apprehensions at the border are down, net migration from Mexico is zero or minus, no terrorist incidents have been reported involving anyone coming into the US from Mexico, and Mexico is one of America's most important trading partners, why is it so important to the president to have Congress provide funding for his Mexican border Wall that he would be willing to risk shutting down the federal government if Congress refuses?

    The answer can only be that it is not the practical consequences of building or not building the Wall that are of primary importance to Donald Trump.

    Rather, it can only be the symbolic meaning of the Wall, as a message to the people of Mexico, and the world, that immigrants from Mexico, Latin America, and the world in general outside Europe will no longer be welcome in America, any more than they were welcome under the 1924 Immigration Act which barred almost all immigration from outside Northern Europe for the following 40 years (although, to be sure, that law did not contain quotas limiting immigration from Mexico or other "Western Hemisphere" countries - not a big factor at that time).

    What is there about the proposed Wall that would constitute such a clear, even though symbolic message, and why would the president be so anxious to put such a message out that he would risk something as destructive as a government shutdown to the people of the country that he was elected to lead?

    I will venture some answers to these questions below.

    First, very possibly most significantly of all, one can begin with Trump's own explanation of the significance of the Wall, as he views it. On June 3, 2016, CNN reported on then candidate Trump's interview with Jake Tapper relating to Trump's claim that Indiana-born Gonzalo Curiel, the presiding Judge in a federal district court lawsuit against Trump personally over Trump University (which has since been settled at a cost to Trump of $25 million) was incapable of deciding the case fairly because of Judge Curiel's "Mexican heritage", as his parents were Mexican immigrants.

    CNN quoted Trump's words verbatim as follows:

    "He's proud of his heritage. I respect him for that."

    Trump then continued:

    "He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico." (Bold added.)

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/03/politi...p-tapper-lead/

    Aside from the small detail that Judge Curiel is an American, not a Mexican, having been born in this country, as provided by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which Trump has since taken an oath as president to defend and protect, the open contempt for Judge Curiel, (whom Trump also called a "hater"),

    http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/donald-trump-university-judge-gonzalo-curiel-mexican-hispanic-hater


    because of the Judge's ancestry, cannot be explained away, no matter how hard one might try to whitewash it.

    It would be difficult to imagine a clearer illustration of the true significance and purpose of the Mexican Wall, at least as far as Donald Trump is concerned.

    But Trump's open attack on Judge Curiel based on his ethnicity didn't tell America, or the world, anything about his motivation for the Wall with Mexico that was not already obvious from June 16, 2015, the day that Trump announced his campaign for president of the United States and his plan to build a Wall with Mexico in the same speech.

    Just in case there is anyone whose memory doesn't go back to that day, not quite two years ago, here is the way that Trump introduced the Mexican Wall plan, as quoted by Time:

    "When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're not sending you. They're not sending you. They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

    http://time.com/3923128/donald-trump...ncement-speech

    This was Trump's only explanation for his promise in the same speech, to build a "great big, beautiful wall" with Mexico (and to humiliate Mexico by making Mexico pay for the Wall).

    Whatever else one may say about Trump, he often speaks in plain, clear language, without legalisms or parsing. There was nothing ambiguous in the above statement. The Wall was necessary, in Trump's view, because Mexicans in general are bad people - inferior to Americans - "criminals" and "rapists" who do not deserve to be in this country.

    2,000 years ago, in his Aeneid, Virgil used the phrase gens invisum - a despised nation - to describe the goddess Juno's opinion of the Trojans - whom she was anxious to keep from coming to Italy by any means possible (and Virgil's great epic poem describes quite a few - this does not mean that I am impugning the slightest knowledge of Virgil or any other great classical literature to Donald Trump - I am not).

    If Virgil were writing today he might well be using the same phrase, gens invisum, to describe the Mexicans whom Donald Trump wants to keep out of the United States, even at the cost of the damage to America's economy and the hardship to millions of Americans that almost everyone on both sides of the aisle in Congress agrees would result from a federal government shutdown.

    However, Trump is far from being the only leader in either ancient or modern history who has tried to use a Wall as a symbol of contempt for a despised group of people whom the leader in question has wanted to keep out of his territory at all costs, no matter what it takes.

    In the 20th century, one thinks of the Berlin Wall, and, even more ominously and tragically, the Wall which the Germans built to separate the doomed Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto from the non-Jewish part of the city during the Holocaust in WW2.

    Going back further in time, both the Great Wall of China, impressive parts of which are still standing today (I have visited this Wall myself), and the Roman Emperor Hadrian's Wall near what is now the dividing line between England and Scotland, were intended to keep out people who were considered inferior and undeserving because of their ethnicity from crossing into the territory of nations, or empires, which considered themselves superior.

    The irony is that what remains of all these ancient and modern walls is now treasured and preserved by historians as mementos of the inhumanity which some groups of people have inflicted on others throughout history.

    For more details, see:

    http://time.com/4652770/donald-trump...walls-history/

    If Trump ever builds his Mexican border Wall, one prediction can be made with absolute certainty. Just as Trump's predecessor, President Ronald Reagan, predicted would happen to the Berlin Wall, and just as has happened to every other such wall throughout history, Donald Trump's Wall will also one day, most likely sooner rather than later, inevitably be torn down.

    There cannot possibly be the slightest doubt about this.

    When it is torn down, let us hope that historians, just as happened with the Berlin Wall, the Warsaw Ghetto Wall, and other more ancient walls such as those mentioned above, will be able to preserve a few fragments of them as mementos of man's inhumanity to man and as a warning to future generations.

    If and when this happens, then, and only then, might one be able to say that there was a useful, or rational, purpose to Donald Trump's Mexican border Wall.

    As an additional note, Walls against outsiders are not normally built by democratic societies, but by autocratic or totalitarian regimes, as in the case of the Berlin Wall and the Warsaw Ghetto Wall. But one does not even have to go back as far as the 20th century to see examples.

    Hungary, according to recent news reports, is now building the second stage of its wall against Middle Eastern and North African refugees, even as that country turns away from democracy toward dictatorship, as The Guardian chillingly reported last October:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commenti...t-viktor-orban

    It is a disturbing, though not surprising, sign that top presidential adviser Stephen Bannon's Breitbart News recently published an article praising Hungary's treatment of immigrants, even as The Guardian reports that refugees in that country have been treated "worse than wild animals".

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-governm...ers-democracy/

    Is this the future that Donald Trump has in store for America? Is this why he is so willing to shut down the federal government if he does not get his way on funding for the Mexican border Wall?
    _______________________________
    Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world receive work visas and green cards.
    Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com

    Updated 04-24-2017 at 09:18 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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