President Trump made an appeal directly to the American people for increased border security funding in his Oval Office address on Tuesday night, contending that his Democrat opponents bear the blame for the current impasse.
“Sen. Chuck Schumer… has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president. Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis, and they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation,” Trump said.
“The Federal Government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security… The only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government,” Trump continued, “This situation could be solved in a 45 minute meeting.”
Earlier in the day, the White House released its plan for using the requested funds, which includes $5.7 billion to construct 234 miles of new physical barrier along the border.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 9, 2019
Trump is also seeking $675 million for equipment to detect and deter narcotics, weapons and other contraband trying to be brought through the ports of entry.
“Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs including meth, heroine, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border,” Trump said. “More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.”
The administration wants an additional nearly $6 billion to hire more border patrol agents and immigration judges and for the housing, medical and transportation costs associated with those detained at the border.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have both come out in opposition to further funding for a border wall or barrier. Pelosi has called a wall between nations an “immorality.”
Currently, there exists about 700 miles of various forms of fencing or barriers along the nation’s 1,954-mile border with Mexico. Included in this total is approximately 350 miles of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers, National Review reported.
— Council on Foreign Relations (@CFR_org) January 8, 2019
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there were a total of 521,000 apprehensions at the southwest border in Fiscal Year 2018.
The number of apprehensions surged in the first two months of FY 2019 to approximately 60,700 in October and 62,500 in November. Those figures represent an over 10,000 person-per-month increase compared to FY 2018.
In a joint statement released ahead of Trump’s address, Pelosi and Schumer predicted his remarks would be filled with “malice and misinformation.”
Trump stopped short of declaring a state of emergency to obtain wall funding, which he asserted on Friday that he has the power to do.
“We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country… I haven’t done it, I may do it,” he said.
“We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly,” Trump added. “But if we can do it through a negotiated process, we are giving that a shot.”
To that end, Trump informed the American people of his intention to meet Wednesday with Democrat and Republican leaders to continue talks, though he did not remove the option for a declaration of national emergency from the table.
USA Today reported that presidents have broad powers to make such declarations.
“Congress can terminate a declared emergency, but it requires a joint resolution – a high hurdle,” the news outlet noted. “House Democrats, now in power, would have to convince Senate Republicans…to join them in blocking Trump’s move. Then they would have to get a signature from the president, the same person who declared the emergency in the first place, or override his veto.”
The other means those opposed to the border barrier would likely take is to seek an injunction stopping construction, probably in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has shown the greatest willingness to oppose the president’s policies, particularly on issues related to immigration.
The Trump administration would then almost certainly have to engage in a lengthy court battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it may or may not get a favorable ruling.
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