Donald Trump border wall speech – US President calls for $5.7bn Mexico barrier funding to defeat ‘humanitarian and security crisis’ in landmark Oval Office broadcast
DONALD Trump last night demanded funding for an impenetrable border wall with Mexico to defeat what he called a “humanitarian and security crisis” on the frontier.
The President made a prime-time televised address ahead of a visit the border later this week – as the government marked its 18th day of a partial shutdown.
AP:Associated Press Donald Trump said a border wall was needed to counter what he described as a ‘humanitarian crisis’[/caption]
Speaking to the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, President Trump said that all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal immigration.
Among those hit hardest by illegal immigration are African-Americans and Hispanics, he said – although he did not provide evidence for that and similar claims.
And Trump blasted Democrat rivals in Congress – blaming them for shutting down the government for the second longest period in history over the border security row.
But despite earlier hints, he stopped short of declaring a national emergency that would have allowed him to order construction of the barrier without legislation.
Reuters Trump listed a litany of crimes he said were committed by illegal immigrants as he pleaded for border wall funding[/caption]
Reuters President Trump delivered his first official address to the national amid an ongoing government shutdown[/caption]
Donald Trump’s address was broadcast live from the White HouseNBC News
He is now pinning his hopes on his much-hyped deal-making skills in a crunch meeting with Democrats on Wednesday to hammer out a deal to get the government running again.
Beginning his address, President Trump said: “My fellow Americans, tonight I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.
“Every day customs and border patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country.
“We are out of space to hold them and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.
“America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation.
“But, all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration.
“It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.”
Broadcast to the nation: Key lines from President Trump's first Oval Office address
PRESIDENT Trump's first official Oval Office address to the nation talked of a 'crisis' at the border – although some of his claims were without evidence. Here are the takeaway lines from the speech:
“Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.”
“This is a humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.”
“The border wall would very quickly pay for itself. The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500 billion a year vastly more than the $5.7 billion we have requested from Congress.”
“Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside.”
“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?”
“To every member of Congress: Pass a bill that ends this crisis.”
“To every citizen: Call Congress and tell them to finally, after all of these decades, secure our border.”
“When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect our country. And that is what I will always do, so help me God.”
Leading Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi blasted Trump’s address as being full of ‘misinformation and malice’EPA
It comes amid a partial government shutdown due to a stalemate with congressional Democrats.
The President wants over $5.7 billion (£4.46bn) for a wall on the US-Mexico border.
Democrats – who hold a majority in the House of Representatives – are refusing to pay for a wall of any kind.
Responding to Trump’s speech immediately after the Oval Office address, House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi described the President’s rhetoric as full of “misinformation and malice”.
Trump announced the broadcast on Twitter on Monday night
Trump channelled Game of Thrones in a post to say ‘The Wall is Coming’ earlier this week
And Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader, added that Trump was solely responsible for shutting down the government – because he could not “get his own way”.
Democrats have argued that a wall would be expensive, inefficient and immoral.
Elsewhere in his address, President Trump listed a series of gruesome crimes he said were committed by illegal immigrants.
He added: “How much more American blood will be shed before Congress does its job?”
But Trump also appeared to demonstrate flexibility during his nearly 10-minute speech from the White House.
He said of the border barrier: “At the request of the Democrats it will be a steel barrier and not a concrete wall.”
AFP or licensors Trump said the border wall is vital for national security[/caption]
But Democrats have opposed not just the construction materials to be used, but the extent of a project that could end up costing more than $24bn over the long run.
Democrats also argue that a mix of fencing, which already has been constructed in many parts of the border, and higher-tech tools would be cheaper and more effective in securing the border.
Trump has scheduled a trip to the border Thursday to highlight his demands for a physical barrier on the border – a cornerstone pledge during his election campaign.
On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump had not made a decision about his threat to declare a national emergency and build a wall without congressional approval.
Asked about the possibility of legal challenges and whether the White House counsel’s office had reviewed the matter thoroughly, Pence told reporters: “They’re looking at it, and the President is considering it.”
Part of the Mexican border fence that already exists in ArizonaAlamy
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Trump is pinning his administration on the wall – which he believes will stem illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
He promised during the campaign that Mexico would pay for it – and the country has refused to do so.
Pressure to reach a deal to end the shutdown is likely to grow as its effects are increasingly felt, including possible cuts in food stamp programs for the poor.
Large chunks of the federal government shut down on December 22 – halting wages for hundreds of thousands of government workers and bringing some services to a halt.
Trump said in December he would be “proud” to shut the government down over the wall and told lawmakers last week it could last months.
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