No border wall funding, no border. That’s the ultimatum Donald Trump seemed to be giving Democrats at an event in Cleveland this weekend.
On Saturday, the president appeared at a round-table to discuss tax reform, but the conversation quickly turned to the problems with immigration and the border.
Trump stated that more funding was needed to build his much-touted wall — and hinted that if lawmakers didn’t provide it, the entire border could be shut down.
“We are fixing and building walls, but we need much more money and we are doing the job,” Trump said, according to The Washington Examiner.
“We may have to close up our country to get this straight because we either have a country or we don’t,” he continued.
As part of his remarks, the president pointed a finger at Democrats and suggested that their “catch and release” illegal immigration policies were allowing criminals to escape justice.
“You catch ’em, and then you release ’em,” he said.
One of the obstacles to constructing the proposed border wall is something Trump understands very well: dollars.
“We are going to demand Congress secure the border in the upcoming CR. Illegal immigration must end!” Trump recently declared. Funding is the key, but so far Congress has dragged its feet on the issue.
Lawmakers approved $1.6 billion in funding for the border wall as part of the “omnibus” spending bill, but this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $25 billion amount that the president requested.
The Cleveland remark might have been off the cuff, but Trump said similar words during another stop in Michigan.
“That frustration manifested itself into threats to shut down the government over the issue. During a rally in Michigan last Saturday, Trump threatened to ‘close down the country’ for funds for his border wall,” reported The Examiner.
Of course, how you would shut down the border without having sufficient border security in the first place is a bit of a mystery. It’s a catch-22: If locking down the entire border for political leverage could be done, the president wouldn’t need to build the wall.
It’s possible Trump was alluding to an overall government shutdown, but that situation is something that both Republicans and Democrats want to avoid.
Either way, it increasingly seems like the president has the pulse of the people and knows there’s support for border security, but lawmakers don’t want to back him on this issue.
The result right now is a sort of stalemate. Trump will no doubt continue to raise the issue whenever possible, as he has since long before the election … but it will take more than words and campaign rallies to make this happen.
Maybe Trump does have a trick or two up his sleeve to push Congress into action — we certainly wouldn’t put it past him.
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