Updated: Jan 19, 2019
My sister works for the federal government and like 800,000 others has been furloughed for over 3 weeks due to the longest shutdown in USA history. Federal workers are not supposed to complain about the government, but the rest of us can speak out. Hardships are increasing all over the USA for these families who are not getting a paycheck. This is because the President shut down the government to pressure Congress to give him his border wall. He is playing chicken with people’s lives.
The strain is beginning to cause tears in the fabric of American lives. It affects both low and middle-income families. Here are some examples. Domestic Violence shelters are cutting back on services. Health care services for over a million American Indian and Native Alaskan women have stopped, and federal food assistance to 32 million working class families will run dry by the end of February. Data shows that most people live paycheck to paycheck, even when they are in the middle-class. When they can’t pay the mortgage or rent, these people may lose their homes. Some have had to dig into savings or take out loans to keep afloat. Thousands across the nation have filed for unemployment benefits. Basic rights to health care, food, housing and safety have been threatened.
Oh, and there is another group of 800,000. Immigration courts are shutdown, so the backlog of asylum and immigration cases, people waiting to hear if they will be granted safety on US soil has reached 809,041 as of January 14th. Thousands of Central American migrants are stuck in Tijuana waiting for asylum.
It has been raining all week here in San Diego. I only live an hour from the border town of Tijuana, Mexico. This week, I got connected to a group to help provide needed clothing for families at the border. I gathered up some coats, sweaters and rain gear and delivered 8 bags to them. Of course, out of need comes help. There was a story about a café in Texas giving sandwiches to furloughed federal workers. They just sign an IOU. Some find it hard to ask for help but are under tremendous stress as their needs increase with time. Kids get hungry. Who is going to feed them? Help is needed for both the furloughed and the immigrant.
The widespread damage of this shutdown is causing political fallout. A bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted to end the shutdown. Many of the President’s staunch supporters do not believe his wall is worth this damage to the country. The President and his Republican allies in the Senate are alone in wanting the government shutdown to continue.
The shutdown is deeply unpopular and the majority of people in the USA blame the President for it. Human suffering increases because some favor a border wall. On the plus side, I love that my furloughed sister has more time to hang out with her siblings and friends, and we get to see her more often. I find that a precious use of human resources!