Andrew Harnik, AP
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, speaks to reporters as she leaves an event with furloughed federal workers amid the partial government shutdown, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

President Trump can end the government shutdown immediately. So can Speaker Pelosi. Who you hold responsible for the current impasse depends on one of three P’s: person, party or policy. Your love of Trump or Pelosi may drive where you place the blame. Your party affiliation may determine your opinion. How you feel about the substance of the current budget impasse, immigration and border security may be the deciding factor.

Some may question why building a wall is so important to Trump that he is willing to shut down the government. Others are perplexed why keeping a porous border is so important to Pelosi that she won’t allow a small amount of the overall budget to be spent extending a physical barrier. The real reason for their intransigence has very little to do with policy and mostly to do with politics.

Lost in the gamesmanship is the very real and very important issue of immigration reform. Once again, our national leaders seem unwilling or incapable of solving an issue of national significance. Protecting the border is absolutely a national security issue and one of the limited things the federal government was created to do. Immigration is absolutely part of our national and cultural heritage. Immigration is an economic imperative, as additional workers are needed to continue the country’s current economic growth. Beyond the economics, we understand in Utah, as a state that was founded by persecuted refugees, that immigration is also a moral imperative.

Why is it so difficult then to find common ground for strong border security and compassionate immigration policy? The answer is simple and sad. A handful care more about scoring political points in partisan battles than pragmatic problem solving. This partisanship is on full display with the debates around the current government shutdown. Some Democrats who once supported border security now oppose it for no other reason than preventing Trump from getting a win on his signature campaign promise. Some Republicans on the other side of the aisle sit in silence rather than seeking solutions through robust debate and votes.

Trump was elected president on the fundamental promise of securing the border. Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House on the fundamental promise of opposing Trump. They sit in opposite, seemingly irreconcilable corners, but the good news is the rest of us don’t have to. The American public should not be pulled into the ideological corners to which partisans have retreated.

Partisans say if you support immigration then you must also love open borders and hate the rule of law. False. Partisans say if you support border security then you must love the wall and hate immigrants and minorities. False.

31 comments on this story

Immigrants enrich our society. True. Without the rule of law there is no society to enrich. True. You can hate illegal immigration and love immigrants. True. Not only can Americans support border security and support immigrants, in fact most do. Don’t let any politician or media talking head tell you otherwise.

The path forward lies in the commonsense, middle ground. We deserve an immigration system that welcomes those who want to enter this country and contribute to its prosperity and at the same time have secure borders that keep out those who want to enter this country for nefarious purposes. It really is that simple. Come on national leaders, let’s make a deal.