“Non-essential government projects and construction have ground to a halt so that as many resources as possible can be diverted to coronavirus pandemic response” might be a sentence you’d read if someone were in charge around here, and by here I mean the kleptocracy that is currently the United States. Instead, construction for impeached president Donald Trump’s wind-challenged border fencing isn’t just continuing unimpeded during this epidemic, in areas like Arizona, it’s only ramping up.
“’This administration’s priority is to get the wall done. The rest of us might as well be damned,’ said Maria Singleton, 57, an Ajo resident who has documented in Facebook posts how wall construction is affecting the town—with traffic, noise, dust and, now, new worries about getting sick,” The New York Times reported. It wasn’t until Monday that the state’s Republican governor issued a shelter-in-place order that, apparently, considers golf courses “essential,” The Times said. So golfing continues—and so does dumping our money (not Mexico’s) into useless fencing as doctors and nurses are forced to use trash bags as protective gear.
Newsweek’s Chantal Da Silva reported this week that Trump administration officials boasted about completing more than 140 miles of new fencing as of last weekend, with a couple hundred more expected by the end of 2020, when coincidentally, the impeached president is up for reelection. Trump’s wall was always a dumb, racist chant that stayed just that—until he actually had the power to use our money to erect it, pilfering billions in military funds as he defies congressional authority.
In Arizona, “Many of those living in Ajo are older adults, and there are fears that they are especially vulnerable to any transmission among the crowds of construction workers, engineers and truck drivers who have been descending in recent months,” The New York Times reports. And as the U.S. is falling deeper into this pandemic, “So far, there appears to be no plan to slow down construction. Raini Brunson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the agency was following ‘government and C.D.C. guidelines’ to determine how best to proceed with the work.” Ah, CDC guidelines that say to stay at least six feet away from other folks. Unless, of course, you’re helping erect
a wall fencing, and then the virus knows to skip you. It’s science.
“The border wall has always been a stupid, offensive, and wasteful idea that is all about Trump’s ego and re-election campaign, but the notion of moving forward with the wall construction at this critical moment is unconscionable,” Pili Tobar of immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice said. “All of us should be singularly focused on pandemic response and containment efforts, but Trump is refusing to budge on his wall obsession and related plans to divert funds and personnel that could be better used to help in our state and national effort against COVID-19.”
The group’s statement points to a new lawsuit from the attorneys general from eight states “calling for ‘an immediate permanent injunction” against the Trump administration’s diversion of $3.8 billion for the border wall, raided from appropriated military budgets by the Trump administration for the National Guard and others who may be helpful in the Covid-19 crisis.” Money that could all go to, oh, protective face masks, gloves, ICU beds, temporary hospitals, disinfectants, and of course ventilators, so that no loved one has to be forced to spend their final moments gasping for breath in a hospital lobby.
That’s what a responsible president would have done. A responsible president would do, well fuck, the opposite of everything this one is doing, and is humble and intelligent enough to step back so the experts can help direct this ship. Instead, this is a man who has actually said that his assistance to states during this public health crisis might just depend on how nice they are to him. If so many lives, including our own, weren’t in the balance right now, this would be laughable.