Dear Mr. President,
It is now Day 23 of the shutdown and I don’t know how much longer we can all hold out.
Although the answer to the question “how did we get here?” is important for political and historical analysis, the million-plus Americans impacted by the shutdown can’t really see past the $0.00 on their most recent paycheck. Yes, Sir. I did in fact say million-plus. In addition to the 800,000 Federal employees who are living without a paycheck (whether working or furloughed), hundreds of thousands of Federal contractors who support mission-critical programs across the country have already been laid off. No one is even talking about these Americans. And that number does not even begin to reflect the hundreds of thousands more who will very likely lose their jobs in the coming two weeks as companies look to preserve profit and manage cash flow much more aggressively in order to survive.
History has already proven that there are no winners in a shutdown. The impact to Federal missions, our economy, and our business community is always severe and, in many cases, irreversible. In addition to its damaging effects on Federal employees, contractors, and local businesses, the shutdown will also reverberate across the US economy. According to an estimate by S&P Global Ratings, the “shutdown could shave approximately $1.2 billion off real GDP in the quarter for each week that part of the government is closed.” The shutdown has already cost the US economy $3.6 billion, and that number is projected to rise to over $6 billion in the next two weeks.
Time is not on our side, Sir. As each day passes, the situation becomes increasingly dire.
Duhaime’s Law Dictionary defines a National Emergency as a “situation beyond the ordinary which threatens the health or safety of citizens and which cannot be properly addressed by the use of other law.” The protracted government shutdown and the breakdown in communications at the highest levels of our government fully meets this definition. The partial government shutdown is not only forcing hundreds of thousands of Americans to suddenly file for unemployment, but it has suspended and crippled vital public safety services such as food inspections, airport screening, air traffic control, and immigration courts. Much like a hurricane, the longer it hangs around, the more damage it will inflict.
Among the many services that we often take for granted, but which are clearly at risk and essential to every American:
- Coast Guard patrols that protect our borders at sea and interdict vast quantities of illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants arriving in America by boat,
- Air Traffic controllers who work stressful jobs ensuring the integrity and efficiency of America’s airspace,
- TSA agents and Federal Air Marshalls who directly ensure the safety of citizens traveling by commercial airlines,
- Immigration court judges and legal staff that determine who has broken the law to enter the country and order the removal of illegal immigrants,
- IRS employees who process tax returns – essential to the economic stability of thousands of American businesses – and help all citizens prepare their tax returns,
- National park police and rangers who ensure the public’s health and safety on millions of acres of public lands,
- The Small Business Administration’s services to guarantee small business loans, affecting the plans of small businesses and their ability to survive during this time of crisis, and
- FDA food-safety inspectors who are not available to conduct regular safety inspects of facilities across the country.
I urge you to consider the shutdown and the loss of jobs and safety for all Americans a National Emergency. Use your powers as given to you by the Constitution and our nation’s laws, but please do not allow Americans to become human shields or collateral damage during this impasse any longer. Navigating the end to the shutdown so that a million-plus hard-working Americans can go back to doing their jobs of protecting and serving millions of other hard-working Americans makes YOU the hero.
I implore you, Sir, please be the hero this week.
With over a million Americans suddenly out of work and unable to protect and serve our communities, swift and decisive action is required. You are the president of ALL Americans and we need you to bring an end to this “situation beyond the ordinary” – today.
Alba M. Alemán, CEO
The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by Homeland Security Today, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints in support of securing our homeland. To submit a piece for consideration, email HSTodayMag@gtscoalition.com. Our editorial guidelines can be found here.