WILKES-BARRE, Pa.—President Donald Trump has threatened to allow a government shutdown in the fall if Democrats do not back funding for more border security measures and immigration reform.
A shutdown would close all nonessential offices of the government and furlough hundreds of thousands employees, if Congress fails to approve the federal budget for the 2019 fiscal year.
At recent rallies and on Twitter, the president has dug in his heels over funding for border security, especially for a wall along the southwest border.
On July 29, he wrote on Twitter, “I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!”
On July 31, he wrote on Twitter that a shutdown would be a small price to pay for “a safe and prosperous America” and that he is unconcerned about the political ramifications.
“Our immigration laws and border security have been a complete and total disaster for decades, and there is no way that the Democrats will allow it to be fixed without a Government Shutdown,” Trump wrote. “Border Security is National Security, and National Security is the long-term viability of our Country.”
The Epoch Times talked to around a dozen Trump supporters at the president’s Make America Great Again rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 2.
‘If That’s What It Takes’
Daphne Reid, 64, who owns a cleaning company in Wilkes-Barre, said she would support Trump in a shutdown “if that’s what it takes to force it to go through.”
“I immigrated to this country, and I had to go through all the red tape to get here,” Reid said. “Even though my situation is different from a lot of the people that are coming across illegally … I have a lot of empathy. It’s a really hard decision, it’s a really hard thing.”
Len Spadaro, 57, a truck driver and Desert Storm veteran, said he would “absolutely” support a shutdown. He said Democrats have been obstructing immigration reform and border security for too long.
“I do believe that a sovereign country and a secure nation would be well served with a border wall,” he said.
Spadaro said Trump gave Democrats more than what they originally wanted in his proposal to give 1.8 million illegal immigrants amnesty and a pathway to citizenship—“and they threw those in the trash.”
Never Shut It Down
Shakerra Powell, 38, lives in Florida but flew to Pennsylvania expressly to attend the rally and support the president. However, she drew the line at supporting a possible shutdown.
“I don’t think the government should ever be shut down—ever,” she said. “I agree with where he stands with border security, but most government jobs are made up of hard-working people, and it’s difficult to shut it down and not [provide] money for the families.”
Powell, a CPA, immigrated to the United States from Jamaica in 1985 and said she supports Trump’s tougher border security and immigration reform ideas.
“I don’t think it’s fair for people to come here illegally and stay here and build family and wealth and everything else while other people are struggling,” she said. “There’s a right way to do things, and there’s a wrong way, and when you choose the wrong way then you have to reap the repercussions.”
Stop Contract Waste
For David Spotts, a shutdown would be personal—he works in construction for the government and has a wife and three children to support.
“As a conservative, I support shutting down the government, but it’s a struggle for me, because it is my job,” he said. “When people think of the government they want shut down, they’re looking at the congressional side as far as politicians. They’re not looking at the people like myself that are doing honest, daily work, and actually working for the taxpayers.”
Spotts said he has been through two government shutdowns already—one for three weeks and another for two weeks. He was paid for one furlough, but not the other.
Spotts said he wishes he could sit down with the president to explain the savings the government could make in the construction industry.
“There’s major stuff that needs to be done to revamp the construction side. There’s a lot of savings,” he said. “I could say I’ve probably saved the government easily $10 million, just this year, by monitoring contracts.”
“These contractors come in and take advantage of the government, [through] modifications to contracts and every little loophole. And nobody really fights on the government side to say, ‘We need to get a better price for this, or you need to justify this.’”
The government shut down briefly in January after Democrats took several days to sign a spending package because Trump did not agree to a blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants without border security and broader immigration reform.
‘Just a Threat’
Retired NYPD Detective Michael Sierra said he would support a shutdown, but “I’m sure he won’t have to shut the government down, and he’ll get what he wants. I feel it’s just a threat.”
Sierra said that although his parents are Democrats, he is a Republican, because “Democrats aren’t what they used to be.”
“Years ago, if you were Democrat, it was a good thing. Now today … I think they’re off the wall,” he said, adding that they’re off track on everything.
“Everything that Trump’s doing right now to get the country back in line, compared to what Obama did, I think … the Democrats have swung a bad way. That’s my personal opinion.”
‘Elections Have Consequences’
Retired banker Mike Alicea said he supports a shutdown.
“Because that’s what the election was about, and as Obama said, ‘Elections have consequences.’ And the consequences of this election is that the will of the people be fulfilled that we build a wall. I don’t feel like paying for every illegal alien at $32,000 an alien. OK. As my son pays off his student loan.”
Alicea, 65, said he hasn’t always voted Republican and thought former President Bill Clinton did “an OK” job.
“I didn’t like him as a moral compass, but you know as far as the economy and kinda you know the will of people was done. He wasn’t trying to subvert things. He had his point of view and I respected that.”