Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Trump pleads on TV for wall funding to fix border ‘crisis’

How to watch Trump's border wall speech and Pelosi-Schumer rebuttal on People respond to addresses by Trump, Pelosi and Schumer over border wall battle
Stacy Diaz | 09 January, 2019, 18:39

US President Donald Trump, escalating the battle over his border wall plan in a televised Oval Office address to the nation, referred to the murder of an Indian-American police officer in California by an illegal immigrant as he demanded $5.7 billion to fund the wall on the border with Mexico to keep the country safe.

His speech was a compendium of arguments, some of dubious nature, that he has made before: the border is being overrun by risky criminals who have committed violent crimes in the USA; migrant women and children are being victimised; the opioid crisis stems directly from a flood tide of illegal drugs crossing the southern border; his plan to secure that border includes advanced technology, more law enforcement personnel and, yes, a barrier costing $US5.7 billion ($8 billion) that would be made of steel slats, in deference, he said, to Democrats who oppose a concrete wall - a change Democrats say they never asked for.

Mr Schumer accused Mr Trump of trying to "govern by temper tantrum". He asserted that "the only thing that is immoral is the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimised".

The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a thirty-foot wall. He said illegal immigration strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.

In fact, a study by the libertarian Cato Institute past year found that crime rates among immigrants in Texas - both legal and unauthorized - were lower than those among native-born Americans.

An October 2018 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency detailed the prevalence and source of a number of drugs, including those Trump mentioned Tuesday - heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine.

The deal updates the North American Free Trade Agreement, in the main preserving NAFTA's liberalized environment of low or no tariffs among the U.S., Mexico and Canada, while making certain improvements for each country. However, there's no plausible argument that it will somehow pay for the wall.

Now Democratic leadership including House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer are demanding that the networks follow Trump's address with a rebuttal by Democrats.

The government has been partly shuttered since December 22, when Mr. Trump announced he would not sign a funding bill that did not contain wall funding. But Trump rejects that legislation because it doesn't have funding for his border wall. But the party now uniformly opposes the wall.

A growing proportion of Americans blame Mr Trump for the government shutdown, although Republicans mostly support his refusal to approve a budget that does not include funds for the wall, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday. Almost half the GOP Senate caucus is up for re-election next year, putting added pressure on them to get the shutdown over with.

Trump and the Democrats have been duelling during a partial government shutdown over his demands for - and their opposition to - $5.7 billion to begin building a border wall with Mexico.

The wall was the first major promise of Mr. Trump's presidential campaign, and a rallying cry for his supporters. His insistence on it now appears to be an attempt to galvanize his base after Republican losses in the fall midterm elections and ahead of the President's own re-election campaign next year. Ninety per cent of which floods across from our southern border.

Such concerns were heightened at the weekend when Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, claimed that 4,000 known or suspected terrorists had been apprehended at the southern border.