On Tuesday Jan. 8, President Donald Trump addressed the nation from the Oval Office, his first time doing so since taking office in January 2017. He addressed the crisis at the border and put before the public his thoughts and proposals for how to end the humanitarian crisis.
“This is a humanitarian crisis — a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul,” Trump said.
Shortly after his address, newly-elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) addressed the nation and rebutted some of what the president said while laying out their own solutions to the problems along the border.
“The fact is: We all agree we need to secure our borders, while honoring our values,” Pelosi said.
Both of these addresses were given during what is now the longest federal government shutdown in the 231 years since the Constitution was ratified. Since 1976, when the modern budget process began, there have been 20 shutdowns. Some of them only lasted hours; however, some, like the current one, have lasted weeks. The previous record for the longest shutdown occurred in 1995 and lasted 21 days.
A shutdown may not seem like a big deal, but a lot of people are being affected by it. According to Quartz, a U.S. news organization focused on the global economy, 800,000 government workers are directly affected. Many critical security positions, such as FBI agents and TSA inspectors, are calling in sick or working without pay.
One of the greater ironies of the shutdown is that it was sparked by illegal immigration and differing views on how to approach the problem. Due to the government being shutdown, a service, known as E-Verify, which allows employers to see if potential employees are allowed to work in the U.S. is operating at a reduced rate. It can still give out some information, but cannot verify if someone is legal or not. Another irony is that because the government is shutdown, the Department of Homeland Security cannot award contracts from the $1.6 billion it has already been given to expand border security.
However, one cannot also forget about the people being directly affected by this shutdown. Due to the IRS not verifying tax returns, people buying and selling homes cannot close on deals. For all you sports fans out there, college basketball is also being affected. For example, David Ugochukwu, a forward at Penn State, cannot get play because his mom works for the Treasury Department and her paycheck covers his tuition, according to Quartz.
There are ongoing talks to reopen the government, but there is no concrete deal as of the time this article is being written.