Not a Wall, but the Down Payment We Need to Build One

February 14, 2019 Updated: February 14, 2019

Commentary

President Trump is getting the “down payment” on a border wall that he demanded from Congress, and he’s going to make sure that the balance will be paid in full.

The $1.375 billion concession that President Trump just extracted from Democrats for new wall construction will not secure the southern border on its own, but it does represent a significant turning point in the fight.

For well over a month, congressional Democrats stubbornly refused to provide the funds our Border Patrol agents say they need to secure the border with strategically-located barriers. Democrats have built their entire electoral strategy on “resisting” the President and were deeply reluctant to give him that kind of a win on such a defining issue.

That’s why their capitulation is such a big deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once joked that she would only agree to a single dollar to fund the wall, but now her own party has overruled her by offering nearly 1.4 billion times that amount.

When you buy a house, you put down 10 or 20 percent. What President Trump just got for the border wall is actually closer to 25 percent of the $5.7 billion he asked for at the start of negotiations, enough for 55 miles of brand new wall in addition to improvements to existing sections of the wall.

It’s not everything we need to solve the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border, but it’s certainly a start, and President Trump deserves all the credit. Every dime allocated for wall construction is directly attributable to the President’s principled refusal to give in to Democrat obstructionism.

For decades, establishment politicians have been content to kick the can down the road, like they did in 1986 and 1990, when Congress reached agreements to offer amnesty and loosen immigration restrictions in exchange for promises to secure the border that were quickly forgotten.

As a result, American communities are still exposed to an unending flood of illegal drugs smuggled into the country by vicious criminal gangs, American citizens are still being killed by illegal aliens with criminal records, and human traffickers are still exploiting our vulnerable borders to inflict immeasurable suffering on migrants themselves.

That era ended the minute Donald Trump put his foot down and refused to sign a government funding bill that didn’t include substantive measures to improve America’s border security. The longest government shutdown in history demonstrated the President’s resolve beyond a shadow of a doubt, creating the conditions necessary for making the wall a reality.

First, the shutdown made it clear to both parties in Congress that they can’t just run down the clock and wait for this issue to go away, because President Trump will never abandon his commitment to the American people that he will end the lawless mess on our border with Mexico.

In fact, the impasse only served to keep border security at the forefront of the national consciousness, denying lawmakers the opportunity to advance their other legislative priorities without taking some kind of concrete action to address illegal immigration.

Second, the Democrats’ obstructionist strategy showed that they are entirely uninterested in serious solutions on illegal immigration and border security. By squabbling over appropriations amounting to barely 0.01 percent of the federal budget, they showed the entire country that their obstinance has nothing to do with pragmatism, and everything to do with the Party’s ideological commitment to mass, unchecked illegal immigration.

These two facts, both of which are now abundantly clear to the American people, will foment the political will to parlay this “down payment” into a full, paid off wall. Unlike previous efforts to secure the border, this issue will not fade from view so long as President Trump is in office for the next six years. Every funding bill and every major bipartisan negotiation from here on out will have further payments for the wall hanging over it.

Just as importantly, with the Democrats’ refusal to compromise on full display, the country will understand that the President is entirely justified if Congress forces him to take executive action to secure the remaining funds for the wall.

We finally have the down payment on our wall, but we’re still a long way from true border security. Donald Trump demonstrated tremendous political courage and an unwavering commitment just to get us to this point, and there’s no doubt that he’ll do whatever it takes to keep the installment payments coming.

Bernard Kerik is a former police commissioner and Department of Correction commissioner in New York City.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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