Trump spruiks 'crisis' on border, Democrats demand government re-open

Sheila Mcguire
January 9, 2019

All major television networks said they'll carry tonight's prime-time address by President Donald Trump on the escalating controversy over U.S. -Mexico border wall funding, which is causing a prolonged partial federal government shutdown.

However, Democrats have called it a humanitarian crisis, while the Trump administration has framed it as an issue of national security, according to the New York Times.

Trump is expected to discuss what he calls a "humanitarian and national security crisis", although reports conflict about whether he will actually declare an emergency, as he has previously threatened.

But the president would be accused of usurping Congress's constitutional power of the purse, and the move would be bogged down in a quagmire of legal challenges. It could potentially unlock military dollars for building the wall. Tomorrow the president meets with his party members at the Capitol.

The White House is reportedly asking networks to cover a speech by Trump following the border visit.

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He also told the group that Trump won't retreat.

With his use of a formal White House speech instead of his favoured Twitter blasts, Trump is embracing the ceremonial trappings of his office as he tries to exit a political quagmire of his own making.

Media captionFive questions about Trump's border wall What did President Trump say?

That partial government shutdown has brought Washington's partisan dysfunction into ordinary Americans' homes across the country, raising the stakes for lawmakers who must face their voters as the chaos drags on. About a quarter of US agencies have been shut down since last month and hundreds of thousands of government workers are likely to miss paycheques this week.

Sen John Thune of South Dakota, the GOP whip, said he doesn't think the emergency declaration is the right move and "I prefer that we get this resolved the old-fashioned way". (According to the Toronto Star, the USA president had made almost 4,000 false claims as of December 5 for an average of 5.8 per day.) Recently, the White House has been trying to justify funding a wall on the notion that there is a new crisis at the southern border, when in fact the number of people trying to cross the border has been in decline for nearly two decades.

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But critics say the security risks are overblown and his administration is at least partly to blame for the humanitarian situation. But the number of families coming over the border has risen sharply, putting a strain on health care and immigration services that came into sharp focus with the deaths of two migrant children. "America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled and illegal migration", Trump said.

Democratic New Jersey Sen. But mostly Trump still wants his wall, which Democrats describe as immoral as well as no solution to illegal immigration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, both Democrats, dismissed Trump's comments. Robert Menendez said Trump is on an 'egotistical quest'. All networks carrying Trump's address have agreed to carry the Democrats' response.

She noted that the House passed legislation to reopen government on the first day of the new Congress. Some 800,000 federal employees have been temporarily laid off - or forced to work without pay.

Once Trump finished his speech, CNN and other outlets quickly went to fact checkers to dispute some of the president's claims.

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