US president Donald Trump is so determined to push forward his racist assault on migrants that he is prepared to stop government workers’ pay.
A partial government shutdown in the US was into its second week as Socialist Worker went to press. This is when government offices close because politicians in the congress won’t agree to a budget.
The shutdown happened because Trump demanded billions of dollars to build a wall along the border with Mexico.
Hundreds of thousands of workers—some 25 percent of the government workforce—have gone without pay since 22 December.
Many are struggling to pay their housing costs and other bills.
The racist US president demanded £4.48 billion for the wall.
On top of this, Trump signed an executive order last weekend freezing all civilian government workers’ pay for the rest of the US financial year.
Democratic Party politicians have proposed a budget that includes no new funding for Trump’s wall.
It was set to be put to the vote on Thursday of this week—when the party takes control of the House of Representatives.
But it is unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.
Democratic leaders posture as anti-racist defenders of migrants. But this is completely hollow.
They have said they will stick to current border security funding—just over £1 billion for the financial year. That means continuing the policy that repels people fleeing poverty and violence.
Some Democrats have said they would consider extra funding for things such as “enhanced fencing, technology, drones, satellites, lighting, censors and cell phone towers” but not a wall.
Thousands of migrants’ lives are at risk at the US border as they wait to have their asylum claims processed. Migrants have been murdered in the border town of Tijuana in Mexico.
Successive US administrations have made it more difficult to process asylum claims legally.
People have to cross the border illegally to force the government to process them.
And once they are taken into custody there is still no guarantee of safety. Seven year old Jakelin Cael Maquin died in December after spending 11 hours in Border Patrol custody. A five month old was also hospitalised with pneumonia after being detained.
Trump’s advisers have admitted he is not wedded to the idea of a continent-spanning border wall.
White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway said, “There may be a wall in some places, there may be steel slats, there may be technological enhancements.”
But on 31 December Trump took to Twitter to declare, “Without the Wall there can be no Border Security.”
The border question is a matter of life and death for migrants and federal workers. But it’s a game to the US political establishment.