In an address to the nation on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump declared a “humanitarian and security crisis” at the southern border with Mexico, where he aims to build a wall, with Democrats blaming the partial United States government shutdown as a result of the president “holding America hostage” in a post-address rebuttal.
The president said that he would now pass on the originally promised concrete wall in favour of steel slats “at the request of Democrats” and placed the onus of the shutdown on Democrats in Congress.
However, Democrats made clear that they did not support any wall, even with “steel slats”, and accused Trump of trying to “manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”
All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration,” Trump spoke from his desk from the White House Oval Office, claiming the issue was a “crisis of the heart ad crisis of the soul”.
Amid Trump’s emotional plea was a demand valued at $5.7 billion for the border wall, but stopped short of calling his teased state of emergency that would allow the president to bypass Congress to build a wall.
Democrat House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate counterpart Chuck Schumer said that their party and Trump both want to have border security but disagree over how to carry it out.
“Separate the shutdown from arguments over border security. There is no excuse for hurting millions of Americans over a policy difference,” Schumer said in response to Trump’s address.
Trump looked to appeal to the emotions of his citizens, painting a picture of “human suffering” that would be solved with a wall held up by Democrats, who want border security but not the Trump version.
Analysts said Trump used blunt language to try to win over public support, saying that illegal immigrants and drugs flowing across the southern border poses a serious threat to the safety of U.S. citizens.
“How much more American blood will be shed before Congress does its job?” Trump asked after going into gory details of murders he claimed were committed by illegal immigrants.
The presidential address came 18 days into the partial shutdown that was started because the White House would not sign off on any stopgap legislation that did not include some $5 billion for a border wall.