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WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the day Donald Trump used the Oval Office to say the nation is in crisis from people trying to enter the United States illegally, he sent a fundraising letter to supporters asking them to give him $500,000 in one day.

This isn’t about border security, which is not a crisis. This is not about a costly wall, which no expert says is feasible or will do any good. This is about creating fear and anger. It’s about politics. It’s about Trump’s reelection.

If Trump thought this is a national crisis, he would have done something about it during the two years he has been in office.

If Trump truly cared about national security, he would not endanger it by not paying air controllers and TSA agents. Most would-be terrorists come by airplane to legal ports. If he cared about border security, he wouldn’t deny funds to the Coast Guard, which interdicts huge quantities of illegal drugs before they get to the country.

If Trump cared about border security, he would worry about the U.S. border with Canada. More suspected terrorists have tried to cross there than at the border with Mexico.

If he cared about security, he wouldn’t threaten to take money away from the men and women in the military to use Defense Department dollars to try to build a wall over hundreds of miles of private land.

If he cared about border security, he would have spent the $1.6 billion he was given last year for border security. He would have accepted a compromise Republicans and Democrats alike forged before the holidays or one that would have locked in $25 billion over 10 years for border security.

If he cared about America, he would not have put hundreds of thousands of families in financial jeopardy by refusing to pay federal workers, let alone consultants who won’t get back pay. He alone said on TV that he would “own” a partial shutdown of government. He did it, refusing a bipartisan compromise, because conservative pundits mocked him for not honoring a spur-of-the-moment campaign pledge.

If Trump cared about America, he wouldn’t have ruined her reputation abroad as a harbor for the homeless and destitute by tear-gassing people seeking legal asylum, by taking children from their parents, by branding whole groups of people as unwanted.

If he cared about America, he would have accepted the compromise to let Dreamers – undocumented immigrants brought here as children – stay in this country. Now they are in limbo, terrified of deportation.

If he cared about America, Trump would not have told more than 6,000 documented lies in office, including saying he had already starting building a wall. No, he has not. He has done little to improve border security during two years in office except hire more border guards. He has not put forth any comprehensive immigration reform plan nor encouraged any new legislation from Congress.

Despite Trump’s claim, there is no “uncontrolled illegal migration” into this country. The number has steadily declined for decades. What is new and sad is that thousands of women and children trying to escape gangs and poverty in Latin America and South America trying to get to the U.S. are now being held in dreadful conditions in Mexico.

Drug cartels transfer most illegal drugs to this country on people admitted through legal ports of entry. A wall would not change that. Most opioid drugs such as fentanyl are coming from China through airports. No wall would change that.

The experts consider walls ineffective. They advocate taking advantage of new technology. But that’s not what Trump promised his supporters; he promised a concrete wall that would stretch 2,000 miles. So when White House aides said he didn’t really mean that, he exploded and said that, yes, that is what he meant. And means.

What he wants is a way to save face, a way to keep his supporters addicted to his peculiar brand of outrage, theatrics and resentment. He wants another White House term, even if it comes at the cost of a government shutdown affecting millions and sullying America’s image in the world.

There is a word for all this: pathetic.

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Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Email her at


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