Washington: Donald Trump, the President of the United States, in his first ever prime time address to Americans over the ongoing partial government shutdown termed the US-Mexico border situation a ‘growing crisis’ and said ‘a barrier is absolutely critical to border security’. 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’.
In his address, he also claimed that ‘the federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only—because Democrats will not fund border security’. Trump, who has long railed against illegal immigration at the border, has recently seized on humanitarian concerns to argue there is a broader crisis that can only be solved with a wall along the US-Mexico border.
“My fellow Americans, today I am speaking to you because there is a growing ‘humanitarian and security crisis’ in our southern border. Everyday, custom officers 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 and illegal migration,” Trump said.
Adding, he said that illegal migration strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those, hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans. “Our southern border is a vast pipeline for illegal drugs including meth, heroine, cocaine and fentanyl. Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroine alone. Ninety per cent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die this year due to drugs than were killed in the entire Vietnam war,” he said.
Furthermore, he also revealed that in the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records—including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings.
The US president’s address came as a way to inform his fellow Americans about the ongoing partial government shutdown, which is now into its 18th day, and to increase people’s pressure on the opposition Democrats.
Following Trump’s address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer are likely to deliver their own addresses on behalf of the opposition Democratic party.
Hours before Trump’s address, White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway said that no decision has been made with regard to declaring a national emergency. However, he claimed that the leader may make a strong case for the Congress to fund the construction of a steel barrier along the southern border.
Earlier on Sunday, Trump had offered to erect a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall along the border to iron out differences with Democrats over the issue which has resulted in a partial government shutdown for over a fortnight.
The partial shutdown started on December 22 when funding for many federal agencies expired and the US president refused to sign any spending measure from the Congress that did not include USD 5 billion for his US-Mexico border wall. Democrats controlling the House have agreed to fund only USD 1.3 billion for border security.
With the partial government shutdown going on for over a fortnight now, there is increasing panic in the two camps and both sides are trying to reach out to Americans to explain their position on the stalemate.
The ongoing partial shutdown may break the previous record of 21 days under the Bill Clinton Administration.