Michelle Quist: Give Trump his wall, and get something in return

(Gregory Bull | The Associated Press) Floodlights from the U.S. illuminate the border wall, topped with razor wire, as people pass Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, at the beach in Tijuana, Mexico. With no breakthrough in sight, President Donald Trump argued his case to the nation Tuesday night that a "crisis" at the U.S.-Mexico border requires the long and invulnerable wall he's demanding before ending the partial government shutdown.

President Trump spoke Tuesday night to the nation. At least, I heard he did. I didn’t watch. Or listen. Or even read about it. I’m over it. Or, more appropriately, I’m over him.

I won’t be the oxygen to his fire or the fan to his flame.

But I’m pretty sure he talked about immigration, national security and the annual government shutdown.

Immigration/national security is one of the most important issues facing our country. And it’s tearing us apart. On one side is our collective, recent memory of 9/11 and the dangers that face us from terrorism. On the other side are reports of children dying and families torn apart on our own southern border as they flee danger and violence in Central America.

There has to be a middle ground. We have to be able to protect our borders from legitimate threats as well as enforce a system that welcomes those seeking a better life.

We can’t keep separating children from their parents, nor treat them like prisoners when they come.

Most of all, we can’t keep shutting down government when we don’t get what we want.

It’s stupid to hold bipartisan budget bills hostage. A government shutdown is a black eye on Congress.

At the very least, Congress shouldn’t be getting paid. That’s why I like Rep. John Curtis’ leadership on this issue. His No Work No Pay Act is only common sense. If federal employees are furloughed or not working, then Congress shouldn’t get paid, either.

Put your money where your mouth is.

I asked the mailman who delivered a package on Sunday:

  1. Why was he working on Sunday? 

  2. Does he get overtime? 

  3. Is he even getting paid at all?

He didn’t know what I was referring to, so at least our coupons and realtor brochures will still make it to our mailboxes.

No one wins in a government shutdown. We were shut down last year at this time, too. Does anyone remember what it was about? Did the shutdown solve the problem? No.

So Trump wants a wall. I think we should give it to him. Let this wall be synonymous with Trump forevermore. Walls throughout history do not have a good track record.

I’m pretty sure the type of wall Trump is heralding won’t ever be built, even if it’s funded. It’s just not practical or feasible. Or right.

But giving him the funding, knowing it won’t likely be built anyway, could accomplish much more good in the long term.

It’ll quench the fervor of those who think this is his mandate.

It’ll stop the primacy of the issue, for now.

It’ll refocus energy back on fixing the system instead of bandaging it.

In return, obtain some concessions. Pass the DREAM Act. Most Utahns agree that these Americans deserve a place in line on a path to citizenship. The support is high nationwide as well — 78 percent of registered voters support allowing “Dreamers” to stay in the country.

Build the wall, pass the DREAM Act. (If you can’t remember, that’s what last year’s shut-down was about.)

Build the wall, fund more lawyers and social workers and facilities on the border to help legitimate asylum-seekers. And keep families together, for goodness’ sake.

Build the wall, allow those who are here, who have never been convicted of a crime, to stay legally without leaving first.

Build the wall, rescind zero tolerance.

Every winter break when the snow starts to fall heavy, my kids jump up and down in excitement to go play. This year they were determined to build a fort. After I gave them all the supplies they needed, they bundled up, which was a feat on its own, and clambered outside to start building.

Then one found a hole in his glove and had to come back in for new ones. Another had snow in his boots, so he sat down on a rock to cry. One had a friend come over and they went to go sledding on a nearby hill. Then they all came in for hot chocolate.

Even for all their determination, the fort was less a fort, and more an ankle-high heap of melting snow.

Let’s play this one out.

Michelle Quist

Michelle Quist is a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune.