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The real crisis 

As I write this, we are entering the fourth week of a partially shut down government. It's unnecessary; a significant hardship upon federal workers, especially those in the lower echelons whose incomes are not in the six-figure range; and a real morale buster. There will be long-term financial consequences for tens of thousands of workers whose credit ratings will likely be damaged by unsympathetic creditors when payments for cars, credit cards, appliances, or mortgages are late. We are repeatedly assured that some will receive back pay but when is very uncertain. I feel especially for the enlisted sailors of the Coast Guard, most of whom don't have access to government housing and often live in very expensive areas due to their assignments.

After 9/11, the Coast Guard switched from the Department of the Treasury to the newly created Department of Homeland Security along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Unfortunately, Homeland Security is ground zero for the test of wills between the president and the Democrats, who seized control of the House of Representatives in November.

This fight is unnecessary as the issue of constructing a border wall could have been resolved over the last two years when Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and the presidency but chose instead to squabble among themselves and kowtow to a rabid, Trump-hating media, refusing to back an effective barrier at the border. The Democrats don't have clean hands on this either as their hatred of the president surpasses all reason and patriotism. Virtually every Democrat who held office before the November 2018 election voted to support funding for a wall on the southern border to one degree or another. Major players such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer voted to fund previous wall proposals. Today, it's as the president claims: Opposition is personal and based upon a desire to obstruct any policy initiated or supported by President Donald Trump, especially a border wall as it was the seminal plank in his quest for the presidency.

The losers in this are federal workers caught in the middle and, of course, the American people. Most despicable is the sudden reversal of Democrats' rhetoric regarding the southern border, which until a few weeks ago was described as a horror show on national news. Children were separated from parents, desperate columns of refugees, thousands of them marching steadily toward the U.S. border, suffered unimaginable indignities, only to be met by tear gas and "heartless Border Patrol agents" who dared to enforce U.S. immigration laws enacted by Congress. The conditions in which border crossers were held once apprehended were considered abominable as major news networks recycled file footage of children being held in cages and forced to sleep on thin floor mats, failing to report that the file footage was taken during the Obama presidency, blaming Trump exclusively. Suddenly, all of this is a "manufactured crisis" even as two children tragically died while in U.S. custody, one displaying ill effects from the journey north, the severity not recognized until too late. The second died after being released from a local hospital at the insistence of the father who declined further medical treatment for his 8-year-old son. No matter, "that's Trump's fault" to be sure along with the Border Patrol agents for not second-guessing hospital physicians who released the child.

This drama is likely to play out indefinitely to the detriment of the nation. We're told by Pelosi and company that a border wall is "immoral, inefficient" as media talking heads repeat the mantra "this is a manufactured crisis." It wasn't "manufactured" when President Obama spoke on the issue or when these same politicians insisted we had to secure the border against drug cartels and mass illegal immigration. We've seen organized mass columns of migrants assault the border since October, numbering 60,000 migrants, according to the Border Patrol. Another column of 15,000 is reported to be organizing in Honduras for another assault on our southern border. Walls work, and where they've been installed, illegal border crossings have been routinely reduced by 90 to 95 percent, which allows us to manage the problem without the chaos we're currently observing.

America, as I have pointed out in many previous articles, is truly a wonderful place to live when compared to much of the world. Some estimate that as many as 1.5 billion people would make the trek here if possible. Unfortunately, America can't save the world alone. We don't have the kind of economy that can absorb millions of low-skilled immigrants as we once did when we were the manufacturing capital of the planet.

We cannot permit thousands of criminals to infiltrate the border alongside legitimate migrants. Hundreds of migrants apprehended in the current mass migration north have cartel/gang affiliations. When media types scoff at this threat, they endanger all of us and mock the surviving family members of crime. Some of these victims are on the Central Coast, such as the brutal 2015 assault and bludgeoning to death of Marilyn Pharis in Santa Maria. We live with it—her family knows it's not a "manufactured crisis."

The real crisis is an irreconcilable political divide among Americans. If reason doesn't prevail, the divide will become irrevocable and potentially fatal for the nation. Δ

Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com.

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