By Miriam Raftery
December 28, 2018 (San Diego) – As a government shutdown over a budget impasse enters its second week, President Donald Trump today threatened to shut down the entire U.S.-Mexico border indefinitely unless Congress passes a budget with billions of dollars in funding to build a border wall.
“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with,” Trump said in a morning tweet.
But in fact, Republicans still control both the House and Senate until January 3, when Democrats will become the majority party in the House of Representatives—and Congress adjourned for the holidays without passing the President’s budget.
The San Diego and Imperial County Chambers of Commerce estimated that a one-day border shutdown at San Ysidro, one of the world's busiest border crossings, over Thanksgiving weekend cost an estimated $5 million in lost revenues to the San Diego County economy.
A prolonged shutdown could be devastating economically for our region as well as a nightmare for travelers and American ctiizens who regularly cross the border for business, shopping, medical or family visits. Many Mexicans with green cards also regularly cross the border for work and school.
An estimated 800,000 federal employees are affected by the shutdown, which affects about a quarter of the federal government. While some are furloughed without pay temporarily and can expect to receive paychecks whenever the government reopens, that’s not the case for federal contractors. So janitors who clean federal facilities, for example, are off work indefinitely without pay, creating financial hardships for many.
Locally Cabrillo National Monument is shut down. Restrooms within Cleveland National Forest including those on Mt. Laguna, a popular destination during winter snow, are closed, leaving visitors to use porta-potties that are reportedly overflowing or travel three miles to the nearest restroom.
If the shutdown is prolonged, the government will ultimately run out of money for benefits such as SNAP, a program which provides food relief for the poor.