The irony of Trump's campaign promise
Hamzah Rifaat Hussain

Editor's note: Hamzah Rifaat Hussain is a former visiting fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington, and currently serves as assistant researcher at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) in Pakistan. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN. 

Inept or unbecoming? Efforts to seize land along the U.S. southern border with Mexico to build a wall has suddenly gained renewed interest and traction for the Trump administration. As COVID-19 cases continue to spike domestically with New York State becoming the epicenter, the current administration finds itself embroiled in a legal battle aimed at sanctioning an initiative as part of a major campaign promise in the wake of the U.S. presidential elections scheduled for this year.

The past twelve months witnessed the U.S. government opening 41 cases in the federal court, with the majority of them being filed last month and 39 percent of the total cases being filed in March and April alone.

The timing of this litigation is ironic given that it coincides with an administration that is being castigated on numerous fronts, both domestically and internationally, over handling the COVID-19 crisis. From questioning the veracity of Dr. Anthony Fauci's assessment of COVID-19 to the WHO funding freeze, Trump's latest move of litigating over building a controversial barrier is yet another attempt to deflect domestic and international criticism over his administration's incompetence and inability to deal with this pandemic.

While undoubtedly, the presence of tougher border controls, social distancing measures, and suspension of flights are integral to flattening the curve of infections domestically, this push for creating a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border has a political undertone to it as it was part of a campaign promise which predates the pandemic. 

An emergency medical technician moves a patient to an ambulance to the New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital in New York, the United States, April 15, 2020. /AP

An emergency medical technician moves a patient to an ambulance to the New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital in New York, the United States, April 15, 2020. /AP

Building the wall hinges on securing a stronger voter base as approval ratings continue to dwindle ahead of the elections this year. This desire trumps all other humanitarian considerations and sets a dangerous precedent for the American public in the process.

The controversial nature of the move has been mentioned by the attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), David Donatti, who questioned the seizure of the property on humanitarian grounds. The seizure threatens the residents of the area along the southern border, given that much of America is under lockdown with restricted movements being compounded with threats of being evicted. Yet, humanitarian considerations continue to be secondary to electoral bids for the Trump administration, as it seeks to deflect criticism with electoral politics domestically.

Electoral politics can hurt economies, societies and states given that swift policy-making, unity and solidarity are needed to counter this pandemic globally. There have been growing calls for debt relief for many developing countries by the G20 as well as waivers of sanctions against countries worst affected by the pandemic such as Iran. Trump's short-sighted policies however, have fractured American relations with its traditional allies such as Canada and Germany with the most recent example of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau castigating Trump for stopping a domestic manufacturing company from sending respirators to Canada.

This, along with the provision of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs), ventilators and medical equipment to boost domestic health infrastructures in the United States and abroad, are a global humanitarian consideration which the Trump administration so far has been unwilling to cater to and is more concerned about building a controversial wall.

From threats to exercise executive powers to adjourn the Congress to drawing the ire of Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, this latest attempt at litigation over the construction of a wall on the U.S.- Mexican border is a grand example of clientele politics and securing vote banks with one eye on the U.S. presidential election of 2020.

The rise of Democrat Joe Biden with Bernie Sanders exiting the presidential race domestically seems to have pushed the Republicans towards fulfilling campaign promises instead of shrewd policy-making directed at stemming COVID-19 both globally and locally. As global and domestic leadership prioritizes collective measures and intelligent policymaking, the current U.S. administration is involved in a controversial plan to fulfill its campaign promises without an iota of consideration for how its domestic performance is affecting the lives of millions of Americans.

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