By Rogelio Sáenz
Ever since Donald Trump campaigned for the presiden- cy, he has had that dastardly wall that he wants to erect on our southern border as a major priority. He has used a litany of people as pawns in his machination to build the wall. At the outset, Trump set his aim outside of the country as he boasted that Mexicans would pay the exorbitant sum of money to build what he described as a “beauti- ful” wall. That pretty much was a non-starter, as it was extremely unlikely that the Mexican government would pay for the wall. How likely would it be for you to get your neighbor to spring for the entire cost of building a beautiful fence that only you wanted? Subsequently, Trump turned his vision to Deferred Action for Childhood Arriv- als recipients. In September 2017, Trump terminated the DACA program and gave Congress six months to come up with a policy to prevent Dreamers, people who came to the U.S. at an early age, from being de- ported. Essentially, his deal was for Congress to come up with legislation that would allow Dreamers to stay in the country in exchange for funds to build the wall.
His own party established roadblocks to make sure that policies were not enacted to help Dreamers, and once the courts weighed in to keep the DACA program alive, the Democrats, too, did not have much of an urgency to make a deal. To recap: Trump tried to get Mexicans to pay for his wall and then turned to use DACA recipients as collat- eral to get his wall. Neither worked. Where to turn? Who is next? Trump’s latest pawns in efforts to win funding for his wall: U.S.-citizen federal workers. In particular, the partial federal government shutdown impacts 800,000 federal employees, a seg- ment of the overall federal workforce. We can get a sense of who these individuals are by examining data from the 2017 American Com- munity Survey. Overall, there are approximately 4.7 million federal employees. Federal government work- ers are a cross-section of the U.S. population, with 60 percent being white, 18 per- cent African American, 13 percent Latino, and 6 percent Asian or Pacific Islander.
Approximately 43 per- cent of all federal employ- ees live in six states led by Virginia (446,000) and followed by California (445,000), Texas (365,000), Maryland (338,000), Florida (235,000), and North Caro- lina (186,000). The District of Columbia has the greatest share of its workforce who are federal employees at 17.2 percent with four other states having more than 10 percent of their jobholders working for the federal government: Hawaii, 12.5 percent; Alas- ka, 11.0 percent; Maryland, 10.8 percent; and Virginia, 10.4 percent. Trump’s latest pawns in- clude many people among us. They are our family members, our neighbors and our friends. With his sulking pout and his arms crossed, Trump is holding firm waiting for Congress to blink and give him his wall, which he obvi- ously views as more impor- tant than a large segment of our nation’s workers, many of whom voted for him. He has boasted that he will hold out as long as it takes to get Congress to fund his wall. I wonder if one of Trump’s biggest lies is his claim that federal workers are telling him that they support his strategy to get funding for his wall. Trump has made a full circle from hav- ing Mexicans pay for the wall to hold- ing hostage federal employees who are being forced to for- feit their earnings to get Trump his wall. Who will he go af- ter as his next pawn? Could it be you or me? We need to realize that the emperor has no clothes and he cannot hide behind a senseless wall.