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Trump visit welcome,but shutdown must end

January 10, 2019

President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit McAllen today to advance his call for better border security, and we hope the visit is productive. By productive we mean Trump realizing that a wall along our entire border with Mexico is unrealistic, and House Democrats supporting at least some of the additional money he wants for better fencing and personnel along the border. In fact, that’s the only way this impasse and government shutdown will end — with some type of compromise, with each side able to claim a partial victory.

Reasonable Republicans like Texas Sen. John Cornyn need to nudge Trump in the right direction, just as reasonable House Democrats from Texas need to do the same with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It doesn’t matter that Trump has done more to inflame this standoff than Democrats. The goal must be a solution, not a continuation of this costly governmental stalemate.

Cornyn has signaled his flexibility while outwardly backing Trump when he says things like, “Border security is three things: it is barriers in places that are hard to control; it is technology, ground sensors, radar, drones and other technological devices used to supplement the barriers; and then it’s people.” Note that Cornyn — and many other Republicans, occasionally including Trump himself — are using the word “barrier” instead of “wall.”

That’s a real-world way to fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking, not Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” that would stretch from San Diego, Calif., to Brownsville, Texas. Vast portions of the U.S.-Mexico border cover barren stretches of desert with few animals and no people. A big concrete wall there would do nothing for our border security. Many illegal immigrants, trafficking victims and narcotics come into our country via airports, further underscoring the limited impact of any wall.

In McAllen today, local and state officials should give Trump a realistic perspective on the border situation. It is not a war zone; overall crime is fairly low. Illegal crossings are actually down — thanks in part to Trump’s focus — even though requests for asylum from families from Central America are up. Comprehensive immigration reform could address both of those.

This government shutdown should not be treated as a bargaining chip or political ploy. It is harming real people — 800,000 federal workers who suddenly have to get by with no paychecks until reimbursed later, and thousands of government contractors who are permanently losing wages. These people are missing car and mortgage payments, worrying about having enough for groceries and prescriptions.

There is a compromise solution here, and it needs to be found sooner rather than later. The president’s visit to Texas today must lead both sides toward it.

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