Dear Senate Majority Leader McConnell,
I am just one of 800,000 faceless furloughed federal government employees being used as a pawn in this shutdown power struggle. And although I don’t expect you to ever read this, I felt compelled to speak because as an American, I have that freedom.
And I won’t bore you with my shutdown story because it’s clear the (increasing) hardships faced by those of us furloughed have no impact on you. If any of those Christian values you all love to preach actually meant anything, then the numerous heartbreaking shutdown stories I’ve been reading would have pushed you to reopen the government weeks ago.
No, I won’t bore you with my personal story of hardship.
Instead, I’d like to point out how you are misguided in thinking that throwing money to build a wall will solve anything.
You see, throwing money at a problem never really solves anything. Building a wall is akin to putting on a bandaid. Or maybe to use a more recent concrete example, it’s like building a levy. Eventually, the right storm will come along and damage that levy such that all hell will break loose. The storm doesn’t have to be the biggest or most powerful. It just has to be the right storm at the right time.
Solving the illegal immigration problem by building a wall is much like that—you’re putting a bandaid on it, but not really getting to the root of the problem.
Instead, you need to ask: why do people put their lives at risk to attempt to illegally cross the border to come to America?
It’s not for our great education system. No, there are countries outperforming us in education, particularly in math and science.
It’s not for our safety record. No, gun violence in America is the highest among the developed nations and our mass shooting record is abhorrent.
It’s certainly not for our infrastructure. Bridges aging and collapsing, roads in dire need of repair, national parks with huge maintenance backlogs, drinking water systems contaminated, airports and air traffic control systems outdated.
So then why do they come?
They come for the American dream—opportunity. Where a bookseller turned an internet bookstore into the epitome of all internet shopping. Where two Ph.D. students used a research project to fundamentally change the way we interact with the internet. Where a college student in his dorm room created what has defined social media.
(And that’s just in the last 30 years.)
They come for what America promises—freedom. Freedom to speak without fear of repercussions. Freedom to worship without fear of persecution. Freedom to raise their family simply without fear.
Do you think they necessarily want to leave their homeland? Their familiar culture? Their friends? Their family? Do you think that the journey is an easy one or one taken without thought?
They come because they seek opportunity and freedom.
America is, after all, the land of immigrants. It’s the reason why all of our forefathers made the same decision, no matter how long ago, to leave their homelands and come to America—for the opportunity and freedom to make a better life for their children.
So instead of putting a bandaid on the problem, why not get to the root of the problem? Why not show the world how America IS a great nation, a great leader, a great neighbor? Why not lead by example and work to help those countries struggling under oppressive regimes? Under extreme poverty? Under persecuting racism? Not by threatening that country’s leadership. Not by going to war. But by leading as Dr. King suggested—nonviolent social change.
So why not put aside throwing money to build a wall that is, after all, just a bandaid on a much deeper and larger problem? Instead, why don’t you reopen the government and allow these 800,000 dedicated public servants to go back to their jobs.
Because of your inactions, I, like many of my fellow furloughed colleagues, have lost faith in you and the system. The system we all swore to uphold and defend. So I ask you, as a constituent and voter, to do the right thing and reopen the government. Let’s get back to work solving some of these problems and making American a great nation.
Thank you for your time.
a furloughed worker who’s anxious to get back to work