Pelosi and Schumer reply to Trump's border wall speech - in full

Toby Graves
January 9, 2019

President Trump announced the speech on Monday afternoon, stating on Twitter: "I am pleased to inform you that I will Address the Nation on the Humanitarian and National Security crisis on our Southern Border".

President Donald Trump ahead of his address to the nation is still considering the option of declaring a national emergency to fund a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview.

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.

Trump has been discussing the idea of declaring a national emergency to allow him to circumvent Congress and move forward with the wall. It was not clear whether he might do so at a later date.

US President Donald Trump wants the Democrats to approve funding for a wall to end a government shutdown.

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.

"As part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested US$5.7 billion for a physical barrier", Trump said.

"The president was asked whether it [the national emergency option] is something he was considering, and he said it is something we are looking at...."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded to the planned speech by asserting Democrats should have airtime to respond to Trump. The networks said on Tuesday morning that they will carry the Democrats' response.

Democrats have said they support increased border security measures such as additional US border agents and technology, but have rejected the administration's claims about the security risks at the border and have raised concerns that Trump will use his speech to present a false narrative.

She blamed Mr Trump's "obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall - a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for!".

Using blunt language in an attempt to win public support, Mr Trump said illegal immigrants and drugs flowing across the southern border posed a serious threat to American safety. But even if blocked, Trump could claim to his base that he had done what he could, while ending the damaging government shutdown.

There is an obvious solution: separate the shutdown from the arguments over border security.

The California congresswoman added: "And the fact is: President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government".

In rejecting Trump's demands, Democrats also point to the Trump administration's controversial handling of families and other migrants from Central America at the border. Federal workers still on the job apparently will miss this week's paychecks. We can reopen the government AND continue to work through disagreements about policy.

Critics have decried the previous separation of migrant children from families, the use of tear gas at the border and the case of two Guatemalan migrant children who died in USA custody in December.

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