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A Shutdown with No End in Sight

A Shutdown with No End in Sight

December 22, 2018 while the world readied itself for the holidays, a standoff over Trump’s $5.6 billion border-wall demand led to a partial government shutdown that has lasted into 2019. The shutdown has become the longest of its kind in history. A spectrum of industries and workers are affected by this ongoing shutdown. 800,000 federal workers have been without pay. 25% of the US federal government has no funding. Nine departments’ operations have ceased, including Homeland Security, Justice, Housing, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, and the Treasury. National Parks have been closed. Major components of the U.S. immigration system, along with many government websites, are offline, out of order or under strain, the services “unavailable due to a lapse in government appropriations.” When federal agencies are dealing with migrant families crossing the border and crowding U.S. courts, the closure of the immigration authorities has not only left workers unpaid, but frustrated many tourists and visitors.

In the front line, U.S. Border Patrol agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and other enforcement personnel at the Department of Homeland Security are working with merely an assurance they will be paid later; many of them are starting to call in sick. Still, more than 2,000 migrants per day on average add to their workload, according to the latest Customs and Border Protection statistics. With nowhere to detain these migrants, the government has been releasing hundreds onto the streets in El Paso, Yuma, Ariz., and other border cities.

Consequences of the government shutdown also impact the private sector. In addition to the approximately 800,000 federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay, low-income employees such as cafeteria and custodial workers are out of work. Private companies with federal contracts are facing uncertainty. Contractors’ work, such as that of outsourced security companies, suppliers and researchers, is disrupted. Furthermore, IRS’ closure means tax returns and W-2 statements will be put on hold -- which in turn, affects consumer spending.

After meeting top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on January 4, 2019, Trump stated he could continue the shutdown for months or even years to force funding of the US-Mexico border wall. He could also declare a national emergency to build his promised wall bypassing congressional approval.

Meanwhile, a search for a way out of the impasse was underway. Could resurrection of the old Democratic notion of pairing wall funding with DACA protections for the Dreamers put an end to the shutdown? Could Senator Lamar Alexander’s idea of giving Trump an additional $1 billion to fortify ports of entry rather than a border wall be the solution? The standstill remains, with no end in sight.

政府无终止之停工

2018年12月22日, 当人们准备欢度假期之时, 川普因国会未通过56亿美元边境围墙的预算案而致使部分政府机关停工, 持续至2019年当今仍未终止,已成为历史上最长的一次政府停工。各行业人员皆受此次停工影响。80万联邦政府职员丧失工资。25% 的政府单位没有资金资助。国安部、司法部、住房部、农业部、商业部、内政和财政部等九个部门之业务也已停顿。国家公园已关闭,美国移民局以及许多政府网站都处于离线状态、停顿或 "由于政府拨款的失误而无法作业"。当联邦机构人员忙着处理跨越边境、蜂拥美国法院的移民之际, 移民当局的关闭不仅使其职员在没有报酬的情况下持续为国服务,也让许多游客或访客感到茫然无助。

在前线的美国边境工作人员、移民和海关执法官员以及国安部的其他执法人员只知道他们的薪资会延缓发放;许多人员已开始请病假。根据海关和边境保护局的最新统计数据, 平均每天仍有 2 000多名移民需处理。由于无处拘留这些移民, 政府已经在埃尔帕索、尤马、阿里兹和其他边境城市的街头释放了数百人。

政府停工的后果也影响到私营单位。除了大约80万联邦职员面临被解雇或丧失薪酬之外,低收入的雇员如政府单位边卫餐饮业者和清理人员将受到影响, 而拥有联邦政府合同的私营公司也会面临不定的环境, 包括保安职员、各种供应商和研究人员。此外, 国税局的关闭也意味着纳税申报单和 w-2 报表将被搁置 -- 这将会影响到人们的消费支出。

在2019年1月4日会见民主党高层官员如南希·佩洛西和查克·舒默之后, 川普表示他可能会继续关闭政府 数月甚至数年, 以迫使美墨边境围墙获得资金。他还可能宣布全国进入紧急状态, 不经国会批准而修建他承诺的围墙。

多方人士正在寻找摆脱僵局的办法。民主党建议将边境围墙资金与 DACA的保护法同时通过。此作法能否结束政府停工?参议员拉马尔·亚历山大提出给予川普额外的 1 0亿美元来巩固边境的主意。他的想法是否能取代边境围墙, 成为此难题之解决方案?政府至今依然处于停工状态, 情况堪称窘困。