NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Rick DeChiara is one of 800,000 federal employees who went unpaid, anxiously looking forward to receive their paychecks.
“I want to make sure my checks are right,” said DeChiara.
He said he and his co-workers should get two paychecks this week and a third February 8, one week before the federal government could shut down again if Republicans and Democrats in Congress can’t strike a deal on border security.
As a result, DeChiara, a TSA screener at DFW International Airport since the agency formed in 2002, said he and his wife will be watching every penny closely for the next several weeks.
“We can’t really get comfortable because we’re not comfortable,” said DeChiara. “Three weeks from now, we could be exactly where we were before.”
DeChiara and his fellow TSA employees said he and his colleagues welcome $25 gift cards given out in Irving Monday afternoon by the American Federation of Government Employees local 2040 donated by the Tarrant County Labor Council.
Iris Nunez just transferred her TSA job from Puerto Rico to North Texas. “It’s absolutely worrying.”
She bought a home last fall, and will also try to save as much as possible as she wonders if she can dig out of the hole she says the government threw her in.
“So if you find a little piece of rope, you’re going to be thinking it could break, it could break when I get up. So basically that’s the way I believe we’re going to look at any money that comes in. Like if I pull it too hard, I won’t have any more to get up,” said Nunez.
Two North Texas Congressmen CBS 11 spoke with are hoping their Republican and Democratic counterparts can strike a deal on border security by February 15.
Democrat Colin Allred of Dallas said he’s not sure an expanded fence or barrier is needed, but says he wants to hear from those who work on the border everyday and those who’ve studied the problem for years.
“I’m willing to listen to the experts. That’s what I think is the best approach. What do the experts say will get the job done. If that includes additional fencing in places, I think that’s appropriate. I have confidence that Congress can reach an agreement. I’m not sure what the President will do,” said Rep. Allred.
Allred said barriers alone won’t solve the problem of illegal immigration.
Republican Michael Burgess of Lewisville said there’s room for negotiations after both sides agree to expanding a border barrier or wall.
“You can’t have any discussion about status for Dreamers unless you do have border security. Otherwise it simply becomes a one way valve to cause a lot of other people to make that dangerous journey to try to come into the country without the benefit of legal status. A lot of people remember 1986, when President Reagan agreed to general amnesty and was told we were then going to have beefed up border security and this problem will be eliminated. They got amnesty, the never got the security. People I represent, people I talk to, I’m constantly reminded of that fact,” said Rep. Burgess.
As for Nunez, she wants Congress to avoid another shutdown at all costs.
“Make a law and protect us from a situation like this. We have to pay electricity, we have to pay our gas, we have to pay our water, we have to pay for food, we have to pay for our house, we have to pay for our car,” she said. “If we don’t pay that, how can we work and focus if we don’t have money to pay for our things?”
The message Nunez and DeChiara have for members of Congress is they should avoid another shutdown at all costs.
“They’re using as a political pawns. But it gets to be a certain point where it’s not political anymore, it’s immoral,” DeChiara said.