Trump has successfully manufactured a border crisis that distracts from the real suffering U.S. immigration policies cause

The longest federal government shutdown in history trudges on, and I have one simple question: Is paying border patrol officers really more important than paying food inspectors?

President Trump and the Republican regime are staging a temper tantrum cum hostage situation. They're demanding funding for a wall along the U.S./Mexico border. Until they get their way, they're happy to hold ransom the paychecks of hundreds of thousands of federal employees.

Here's what doesn't make sense to me: There is a wall on the border already. There is already 654 miles of fencing running along the U.S./Mexico border. Over the last 12 years, the U.S. has expanded the system of border control by building more physical barriers, deploying troops and installing surveillance systems. I've been screaming these facts into the ether since Trump first burst onto the national stage.

Yes, the border system isn't a cement wall, but that doesn't change its character. Take Israel's wall, which runs along parts of the 1949 Armistice line between the West Bank and Gaza Strip — and logs miles and miles into the Palestinian-occupied territories. That wall is 25 feet of cement in some places, but it is also miles of electrified fencing and other barriers. I've stood with Palestinian farmers trying to cross the wall to graze their sheep on their own land, and Palestinian families trying to cross to visit their loved ones. I can tell you this: There's little difference between a fence and a wall when someone with a gun is patrolling it.

Don't get it confused. Trump's border wall and accompanying immigration policy represent a meaningful new threat. I'm happy that the Democrats are standing up to him. At last, they've discovered a line they're not (yet) willing to cross.

Nonetheless, the rhetoric surrounding Trump's wall stinks of the dystopian. I'm reminded of George Orwell's 1984. In forgetting that we've already militarized the border, we've cast all facts about immigration down the memory hole.

Our rhetoric around Trump's border wall illustrates just how far removed many U.S. citizens are from the reality of immigration and life in the U.S./Mexico borderlands. Trump has successfully manufactured a crisis that distracts from the real suffering U.S. immigration policies have caused for years.

We need to understand why Trump is talking about immigrants and walls and why he doesn't mind misleading the public. His immigration policy is designed to take advantage of misinformation and racism. He's trying to ensure his re-election.