Trump doubles down on push for border wall in televised address

National Security Adviser John Bolton has contradicted earlier comments by Donald Trump saying US troops will not leave northeastern Syria until IS militants are defeated. Pic AP

Trump doubles down on push for border wall in televised address

"There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border".

Some Democrats have in the past been willing to negotiate some sort of wall funding in exchange for presidential backing of immigration changes that would allow people brought to the US illegally as children receive legal status. Twenty-two adults have died in the past two years in a detention system that has proven again and again how deadly inadequate medical care can be.

She says: "The fact is: President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government". The president also allegedly conceded the planned visit to the border was merely a photo opportunity.

As almost 800,000 federal workers still go without pay, the president remained at an impasse with congressional Democrats as he prepared to head to Capitol Hill to huddle with members of his own party behind closed doors on Wednesday. TV networks had been reticent about providing him airtime to make what some feared would be a purely political speech.

As the shutdown enters its 19th day, 800,000 federal workers are increasingly likely to miss their first pay cheques, due at the end of the week.

The two leaders said this in a joint statement late Monday: "Now that the television networks have made a decision to air the president's address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime".

In their own televised remarks, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of misrepresenting the situation on the border as they urged him to reopen closed government departments and turn loose paychecks for federal workers.

Trump told reporters as he was leaving the Capitol that party is "totally unified" in its demands for border security. Trump said in a meeting with Schumer and Pelosi in December that he would be "proud" to shut down the government over border security. There is bipartisan legislation - supported by Democrats and Republicans - to re-open government while allowing debate over border security to continue.

FILE - Two people walk towards metal bars marking the United States border where it meets the Pacific Ocean, in Tijuana, Mexico, March 2, 2016.

Mr Trump cited cases of gruesome murders of American citizens that he said had been committed by undocumented immigrants.

Trump used emotional language, referring to Americans who were killed by people in the country illegally, saying: "I've met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration".

He spoke at length about the victims of crimes by illegal immigrants and said: "This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul". The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency found that 90 per cent of smuggled heroin went through designated ports of entry such as border crossings, and air or seaports, which means it would not be stopped by a wall. "Our southern border is a vast pipeline for illegal drugs including meth, heroine, cocaine and fentanyl".

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