“CRISIS” OR “OBSESSION?”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 8, 2019) — In a ten-minute address from the Oval Office Tuesday evening, President Trump summarized the national security “crisis” he believes exists at the U.S.-Mexico border, where drugs, human traffickers and illegal aliens are entering the country in ever-increasing numbers, according to the administration.
While stressing national-security concerns, he also called the crisis a “humanitarian” one involving exploited children and women, one in three of whom he said are sexually assaulted during their trek to the U.S. border. He said that when illegal aliens are allowed into the U.S., there are insufficient facilities in which to house them and an inability to return them promptly to their home countries.
Trump has made clear that he wants to build a border “barrier” along the southern border, a more recent concession to congressional Democrats after he has called for the building of a “wall” since the 2016 presidential campaign.
Prior to the Christmas break, Congress failed to pass legislation which Trump was willing to sign in order to continue funding all government agencies and build a wall, resulting in a partial government shutdown beginning at midnight on December 21. Last March, after signing an appropriations bill containing a significant amount to shore up the U.S. military but no wall funding, Trump said he would not do so again if the bill contained no border-wall money.
He also wants to see other border-security measures which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says it needs to perform its function effectively, including more immigration judges and increased funding for medical care of border-crossers.
Following Trump’s address, his first from the Oval Office, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave the Democrats’ response.
“The president has chosen fear,” Pelosi said, calling Trump’s desire to build a barrier an “obsession.” She and Schumer believe Trump should “open government” first, then continue the debate over how the country’s borders should be secured. Democrats have stated that they favor technology and solutions other than a wall, which they believe is “immoral” or “ineffective.”
As Trump said in his address, Schumer previously indicated support for, and voted in favor of, a border wall. In 2009, he claimed that “illegal immigration is wrong” and that “People who enter the United States without our permission are illegal aliens, and illegal aliens should not be treated the same as people who entered the U.S. legally.”
Some observers on Twitter said that Trump is “manufacturing” a crisis and politicizing people’s “livelihoods,” referring to those furloughed by the partial shutdown.
During his address, Trump said that congressional leaders are invited to a meeting at the White House on Wednesday. He did not declare the border situation a national emergency, as some had speculated he might earlier on Tuesday.