U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that “urgent action” was required to respond to a humanitarian crisis on the southern U.S. border, as he offered a plan to reopen the government and gain the funding he wants for a border wall.
Trump, speaking from the White House, said, “Our immigration has been badly broken for a very long time.”
“We are now living with the consequences,” which are tragic, he added.
Trump said his plan to offer temporary protections to young people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would also include $5.7 billion for a “see-through barrier,” which he said would quickly reduce the problems of crime and illegal immigration.
Before the speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement, saying, “Democrats were hopeful that the president was finally willing to reopen the government and proceed with a much-needed discussion to protect the border.”
“Unfortunately, initial reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives, each of which is unacceptable and in total do not represent a good-faith effort to restore certainty to people’s lives. It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a non-starter. For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports,” the statement said.
“Dreamers” is a term that pertains to young immigrants who were brought to this country as children by their parents. TPS stands for temporary protected status, which is a temporary designation given to eligible nationals of certain countries who are present in the United States.
According to Trump during his roughly 10-minute speech, “Meth, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl” are pouring into the U.S. along the southern border.
“I intend to keep this promise one way or another,” Trump said of his pledge to fix immigration issues made during his presidential campaign.
He made the announcement just moments after attending the first Oval office naturalization ceremony of his administration, in which he welcomed an Iraqi teacher, a British Anglican minister, a South Korean academic, a Bolivian businessman and a Jamaican national as the country’s newest citizens.
Longest U.S. shutdown
A standoff between Democrats and Republicans over funding for construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexican border has led to a government shutdown, which was 29 days old as of Saturday, the longest in U.S. history.
Trump has called for more than $5 billion in taxpayer funding for the wall, while Democrats have offered more than $1 billion in new money for border security, but none specifically for a wall.
Democratic sources say the money will be included in a packet of spending bills the House will consider next week — $524 million to improve ports of entry and $563 million to hire more immigration judges.
The dispute over the wall and the government shutdown also led to a dispute between Trump and Pelosi over her plans to travel to Afghanistan.
Pelosi accused the White House on Friday of leaking information about her planned trip to fly commercially to Afghanistan after Trump denied Pelosi the use of a military plane for the trip.
Pelosi said it was “very irresponsible on the part of the president” to release details about her sensitive travel plans, which the State Department said significantly increased the security threat on the ground.
The White House denied leaking Pelosi’s flight plans.
Trump on Thursday revoked the use of a military plane for Pelosi and Democratic members of Congress, who had planned a trip to Afghanistan to visit with U.S. soldiers and to Belgium to talk with NATO officials.
A spokesperson for Pelosi’s office said the trip would have provided “critical national security and intelligence briefings” as well as served as an opportunity for Pelosi to thank the troops.
The speaker’s office said “in light of the grave threats caused by the president’s action, the delegation has decided to postpone the trip so as not to endanger our troops or security personnel.”
State of the Union address
The president’s letter did not directly address Pelosi’s call Wednesday for Trump to delay his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union address until government funding is restored and the shutdown ends.
“This is completely inappropriate by the president,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters outside Pelosi’s office Thursday. “We’re not going to allow the president of the United States to tell the Congress it can’t fulfill its oversight responsibilities.”
Later Thursday, Trump also canceled a planned trip by a U.S. delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The delegation, consisting of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative RobertLighthizerand assistant to the president Chris Liddell, was scheduled to travel next week.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president wanted to make sure “his team can assist as needed” during the government shutdown.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers missed a paycheck last week and are set to miss another next week.
“Not only are these workers not paid, they are not appreciated by this administration,” said Pelosi. “We should respect what they do for their country.”
Pelosi’s move on the State of the Union drew sharp criticism from Senate Republicans.
“By disinviting POTUS for SOTU, Pelosi erased any pretext for her unwillingness to negotiate an end to the shutdown. It is personal, petty and vindictive,” Sen. John Cornyn from Texas tweeted Thursday.
– – –