Juan Carlos Ruiz, a priest and cofounder of the New Sanctuary Movement, an immigration organization, joined Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear Monday to discuss the second-longest partial government shutdown in American history, which entered Day 17 Monday.
On Sunday, Trump said his administration was "very strongly" considering declaring a national emergency if Democrats in Congress refuse to fork over money for the wall.
"We're looking at a national emergency, because we have a national emergency," Trump said. "We have a crisis at the border of drugs, of human beings being trafficked all over the world. They're coming through. And we have an absolute crisis, and of criminals and gang members coming through. It is national security. It's a national emergency."
According to Trump, two previous rounds of talks between the White House and Democratic leadership on the issue have "not [made] much headway." Trump has also warned that he would "keep the government closed for a very long period of time… months or even years" in a bid to obtain money for the wall.
"I think he [Trump] has all the underlying [characteristics] of a fascist government," Ruiz told hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker.
"When there are no checks and balances, not only in the immigration field — the government shutdown is so irresponsible. It's seems like the executive branch of government has all the power to do what it wants. We really need to push back on many fronts. What is the pillar of democracy is being demolished completely," Ruiz added.
Currently, nine of 15 federal departments, as well as dozens of other agencies and federal programs, have closed or decreased services because the president has refused to sign a budget bill that does not include spending for his wall. In addition, around 800,000 federal employees have been on furlough or are being forced to continue working without pay, costing the US economy an estimated several billion dollars.
An analysis of the October 2013 government shutdown by the Office of Management and Budget, revealed that GDP growth was decreased by between 0.2 and 0.6 percent, equivalent to an economic loss of between $2 and $6 billion. According to some analysts, the costs of the current shutdown are similar to those of the 2013 shutdown, Sputnik previously reported.
"The framework has changed. There has to be a dialogue. I think we need to begin with the facts. We know that there is already a virtual wall [between US and Mexico]. We have to look at this more comprehensively. We have to look at why do we have 12-plus million people that are undocumented after three decades with no amnesty," Ruiz noted.
"That is a good point," Kiriakou agreed. "Immigration is not an issue that has just popped up and has just posed a problem for the government."
"That's right. It's not just Trump," Ruiz added.
"We have a system that has… literally closed the doors to refugees. What kind of country are we?" Ruiz asked.