More than two weeks have elapsed since the government was shut down in the wake of a disagreement about the federal budget. At the crux of the argument was the $5 billion for a border wall on the U.S./Mexico line. On Tuesday, President Trump addressed the nation regarding what he calls “illegal migration,” from America’s southern border.
“America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation,” Trump said during the address. “But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans.”
The president also spoke at length about the illegal drug trade that flourishes at the border. However, although political experts predicted the president might declare a “national emergency” at the southern border, Trump made no mention of any plan reminiscent of this. He stated his proposal for border security, which included funds for drug interdiction and weapons detection technology, “more agents, immigration judges, and bed space,” along with a wall.
One of the more surprising requests President Trump made was for “humanitarian assistance and medical support.” Interestingly, the U.S. Navy recently deployed the USNS Comfort, one of the nation’s two hospital ships, to South America on a similar mission. At the request of the Colombian government–which has found its social services overwhelmed by the mass influx of refugees fleeing socialist Venezuela–the USNS Comfort steamed south of the equator late last year to provide humanitarian and medical aid.
The Democrat Party offered a rebuttal to the speech, delivered by “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y,” according to a report from NPR. During their counter, the Democratic leadership claimed Trump’s speech was “full of misinformation and even malice.” Both Pelosi and Schumer have been outspoken critics of Trump’s border wall plans and implored Republicans to agree to the otherwise-settled budget agreement.
“And the fact is President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government,” said Pelosi.
Schumer took a more blunt approach, stating in his opening lines that “we address you tonight for one reason only: the President of the United States–having failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective, unnecessary border wall, and unable to convince the Congress or the American people to foot the bill–has shut down the government.”
He also stated that both parties want increased border security, and claimed the best way to refund the government was to “separate” the issue from the entire budget. However, his biggest claim was that the president is using the issue of border security and the wall to take some of the press coverage away from the current investigations inside the White House. “Mr. President, reopen the government and we can work to resolve our differences over border security, but end this shutdown now.”