The Pacific Community’s Take on the Government Shutdown

A disagreement over a portion of the financial budget that has to do with funding a wall between the United States and Mexico has caused severe gridlock in the White House leading to a government shutdown. As a result, federal employees have been working without pay for almost a month now. Essential sectors such as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and even the IRS are severely affected and consequently, tasks are not being completed.

Because these workers are not being paid, these sectors depend completely on voluntary work. Thousands of workers are simply not showing up, thus significantly diminishing the labor force and slowing down tasks essential to our society. The government shutdown has slowed and even halted, in some cases, the processing of financial aid for many students and accessibility to documentation for international students.

“The government shutdown has, undeniably, caused quite some issues for me. I am a green card holder going through the naturalization process. I had steps scheduled through the immigration office that have been pushed back, and then pushed even further back because of the government shutdown,” says one student, International Relations ‘21. “I cannot travel abroad or work right now, because my card expired, but I can’t get my card renewed because things can conflict with my naturalization process. It’s a very stressful and concerning time not only for me, but my family as well.”

Other students are startled at the idea that the government could just shut down so suddenly. Many other countries have systems in place within their governments to prevent a shutdown like the one the United States is currently dealing with.

“The whole idea that the government could just shut down like this is pretty strange to me,” says Erick Nolasco, Sport Pedagogy ‘21. “When I lived in Mexico, even with all of the problems the government goes through, I’ve never heard of it completely shutting down like it does here. I can’t even imagine how angry government employees must be for having to work without pay, all because the president wants to build a wall.”

The government shutdown has also sparked debate over who is at fault: Congress or the president. According to Political Science Professor Dan O’Neill, Trump is the one to blame. “The president wanted something that wouldn’t pass, so he decided to hold the government hostage in order to get it,” he says. “Politically I don’t see a compromise coming in the future because the Democrats can’t allow a wall and Trump can’t not allow a wall. Because Trump ran [for election] on the idea of having a physical barrier, he can’t back down from that now, even if it’s not the best thing for protecting our borders.”

The government has resumed functionality as a result of a temporary truce between Congress and the president. Nevertheless, Trump warns that if he does not get his wish to build a wall by February 15th, the government will close once again. While some believe that this may not be the best decision for the president considering the fact that his ratings in the polls have dropped significantly since the shutdown first began, others believe that he may be left with little choice but to do everything in his power to follow through with his promise.

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Scarlett Green

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