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Posted at: Jan 11, 2019, 7:54 AM; last updated: Jan 11, 2019, 7:54 AM (IST)

Trump heads to US border with Mexico for wall push

Trump heads to US border with Mexico for wall push
US President Donald Trump arrives at the McAllen International Airport in Texas on Thursday. Trump travels to the US-Mexico border as part of his all-out offensive to build a wall. AFP

Washington, January 10

US President Donald Trump heads to Texas to press his case that the country is facing a crisis that can only be solved by spending billions of dollars to construct a wall along the border with Mexico.

His trip to the border town of McAllen, Texas, comes on the 20th day of a partial government shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work or working without pay, while Trump and his fellow Republicans fight with Democrats over his demand for $5.7 billion this year to construct the barrier.

Trump’s plan to build a wall at the southern border was a central promise of his 2016 presidential campaign. He said last month he would be “proud” to shut the government down over the issue.

He has also been considering whether to declare a national emergency and use it to go around Congress by spending money allocated for the Department of Defence to build the wall. Democrats who control the House of Representatives refuse to approve the wall funding.

Critics say that such a move by Trump would be illegal, and plan to immediately challenge it in court. Even some Republicans who want to build a wall have said they do not want money to be taken from the military to pay for it.

Trump will travel to Texas with the state’s two US senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. After Trump’s midday visit, Cornyn will host a roundtable discussion with local mayors, judges, law enforcement personnel and others involved with the border issue.

On December 22, about 25 per cent of the government, excluding mainly the Department of Defence and health-related programmes, shut down because of Congress’ inability to complete work by a September deadline on funding all government agencies.

Backed by most Republicans in Congress and with the strong backing of his most ardent supporters, Trump has said he would not sign any bill to reopen the government that does not provide the funds he wants for the wall.

Trump says that undocumented immigrants and illegal drugs are streaming across the border from Mexico, despite statistics that show illegal immigration there is at a 20-year low and that many drug shipments likely come through legal ports of entry.

Democrats accuse Trump of using fear tactics and spreading misinformation about the situation along the border in order to fulfill a 2016 campaign promise as he looks toward his race for re-election in 2020.

The President has been working to make his case to the public, and bolster any congressional Republicans who might be wavering as their constituents across the country, including border patrol agents and airport security screeners, miss their paydays.

On Tuesday, Trump said in his first prime-time television address from the Oval Office that there was a growing security and humanitarian crisis at the border. — Reuters

Furious Prez walks out of shutdown talks 

  • Negotiations between Donald Trump and the Democrats to end a partial government shutdown have collapsed after the President stormed out of a crucial meeting as the opposition leaders stuck by their refusal to allocate $5.7 billion for his controversial US-Mexico border wall
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer accused Trump of slamming his hand on the table before he exited the White House meeting, and they said he ignored their pleas to reopen the federal government as they continue to negotiate over his border wall demand
  • The President’s walkout from the meeting with Pelosi and Schumer starts a new phase of political uncertainty in the US. White House officials say that the administration is increasingly frustrated with the refusal of Democrats to make a deal, US media reported on Thursday
40 million view Trump’s prime-time address

  • Donald Trump’s first prime-time Oval Office address, a nine-minute speech on border security and the government shutdown, drew roughly 40 million television viewers, according to a media report
  • Trump’s remarks during in his maiden prime-time address to the nation from the Oval Office came amid a partial government shutdown that is days away from becoming the longest in US history
  • The speech itself made little news, and critics questioned why network executives had agreed to grant Trump such a large platform. Executives said they believed that the government shutdown was inherently newsworthy, The New York Times reported
  • His speech fell short of his State of the Union address in 2018, which drew about 45.6 million viewers, and past landmark presidential moments, like former president Barack Obama’s announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, which reached 56.5 million people, the report said

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