The “Tuesdays with Tillis” protest rallies that have been held outside Sen. Thom Tillis’ office in downtown Raleigh for the past two years focused attention this week on President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.
The protest reflected the confluence of the president’s demand for enough money to build a wall along the southern border of the United States to thwart immigrants, the resulting partial federal government shutdown, and Trump’s scheduled network TV address on the topic Tuesday night.
Organizers debuted a new protest song Tuesday, like previous versions sung to the rhythm of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” with the chorus “The shutdown is a stunt.”
About 50 protesters were on hand outside the federal building to hear remarks from Gerald Givens Jr., president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP, and organizer Karen Ziegler.
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“Our country does not deserve to be held hostage over a policy that really is something that is not going to materialize,” Givens said. “The president needs to go ahead and own up, and move on forward because Americans are not going to pay for a wall.”
Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, and Senate colleagues voted unanimously to fund the government with limited money for border security before Christmas. But House Republicans and Trump insisted on $5.7 billion for the wall, leading to a shuttering of about one-quarter of the federal government.
The shutdown reached its 18th day on Tuesday. The House, now controlled by Democrats, passed funding bills last week similar to the Senate’s, aimed at re-opening the government. But without Trump’s support, the Senate has refused to take up the spending measures.
Tillis, who is up for re-election in 2020, has pushed for a broader agreement to end the shutdown — one that includes increased border security funding and some legal protections for so-called Dreamers, immigrants brought to the country illegally at young ages who have grown up in the country.
In an email to The News & Observer, Tillis’ office said the senator does not support voting on spending bills — either together or separately — until Trump signs off on the deal and instead wants Congress to spend its time working on the broader compromise.
Protesters complained, in a news release from Tuesdays with Tillis, that Tillis’ proposed remedy is “using” the young immigrants in a “cruel political game.”