Ilhan Omar at MSP

Rep. Ilhan Omar (center) took to Minneapolis St. Paul Airport to call on President Trump to end the government shutdown that has TSA and other federal employees working without pay. 

Bringing the conversation to the spot where people are perhaps most affected by the federal government shutdown – the airport – Rep. Ilhan Omar and others, including a TSA worker, called on President Donald Trump to reopen the government and get people back to receiving paychecks that don’t have $0.00 on the net income line.

Before boarding a flight to Washington D.C., Omar (DFL-MN) held a news conference at the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport’s Terminal 1 to urge Trump to reopen the government. The 20-minute press conference included workers hurt by the shutdown as well as a DACA recipient who said his immigration status should not be used as a chess piece to force Democrats to approve $5.7 billion to fund the construction of a wall along the nation’s southern border – a wall seen by many as a racist endeavor to keep people of color from entering into the United States.

“Donald Trump, we reject your hatred and bigotry and we will not be used as pawns in your government shutdown,” said Nestor Gomez Jiménez, a DACA recipient.

Trump reversed President Barack Obama’s protections for DACA recipients but offered a three-year temporary protection in exchange for $5.7 billion to build his border wall. Omar called Trump’s weekend proposal a non-starter and said Trump needs to act first before a meaningful conversation can be had.

“We can’t negotiate immigration policies unless we open the government first,” said Omar. “The president needs to open the government first, then we can talk more after that.”

Omar called the shutdown a “manufactured crisis” but said a true crisis will occur if the government does not reopen soon.

“We are soon going to have a crisis when federal employees – those keeping us safe – decide they are no longer going to show up (to work) for free,” said Omar.  

Neal Gosman is directly affected by the month-long shutdown. Gosman is a 15-year TSA employee. He said the shutdown has caused angst for him and his co-workers – some who he said have dual incomes tied to the federal government.

“This is not right,” said Gosman, who said he and others are relying on outside help such as food banks to simply eat. “We shouldn’t have to resort to this. As Federal workers we do an important job, and this is hurting us all.”

Gosman said the traveling public has been supportive of TSA workers, many offering gift cards, but Gosman said federal law prohibits TSA workers from accepting cash and gifts. He said a food shelf has been set up in the terminal and travelers can donate to the shelf there.

Both the House and Senate passed a budget bill in December to fund the government and keep it open. The president initially said he would sign it, but following criticism from far-right conservatives such as Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, Trump reversed himself and refused to sign the bill approved by Congress, in which both chambers were under Republican control at the time.  

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