President Donald Trump visited the southern border in Texas on Thursday to talk with officials about the migrant crisis amid the ongoing partial government shutdown.
“The government shut down because the Democrats won’t fund border security,” Trump said in McAllen, Texas.
“Their open borders agenda hurts all American families, including millions of legal immigrants throughout our nation. In the last two years alone, our courageous [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officers, many of whom are with us, arrested criminal aliens charged with or convicted of 100,000 assaults — that’s the last year, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings.”
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Trump has fought to get funding for his proposed security wall along the southern border.
He argued that the need for a wall is dire during a roundtable discussion with border patrol agents and other officials from a border patrol station in McAllen, Texas, on Thursday.
He also began touring the southern border with officials immediately following the discussion.
Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. My warmest regards and apologies to the @WEF!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2019
— New York Post (@nypost) January 10, 2019
The inability of Democratic leaders and the president to reach a border security deal led the government to shutdown on December 22. Trump has long promised to build a border wall and is fighting to get $5.7 billion for it. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have refused to provide any funding.
Trump was also joined on Thursday by those impacted by violent criminal aliens along with lawmakers like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Texas Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick.
Reggie Singh spoke first and shared the story of how his policeman brother, Cpl. Ronil Singh, was killed recently after they both migrated legally from Fiji.
“Legally we migrated to America to fulfill his dream to join law enforcement,” Singh said during the roundtable discussion. “English is our second language. He worked on that and got an education and applied to a law enforcement agency. He was asked to get his citizenship. He worked toward that and he became a cop.”
Reggie Singh has since urged lawmakers to address the migrant crisis along the border and to stop illegal immigration. His brother was allegedly killed by a man investigators believe was in the country illegally the day after Christmas.
Trump has since cited the brother in his push to secure the border wall.
“The way he was killed, what my family is going through right now — I don’t want any more families, law enforcement persons to go through that,” Singh said on Thursday.
“Whatever it takes to minimize or put a stop to it, my family fully supports it. At 33 years old, Ronil Singh was cremated, and I had to pick up his remains.”
Trump and congressional leaders from both parties have continued discussions throughout the shutdown. But those talks have shown little progress thus far.
The president more recently walked out of a meeting with Democratic leaders, saying afterward he saw it as a “waste of time” because the lawmakers refused to budge on border security as he tried to reach a deal.
“To those who say this is a manufactured crisis, this is a manufactured cover-up by your opposition,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said. “We have had 5,000 people apprehended crossing the border to San Diego from Brownsville last year — more than half in Texas and most of those in this sector between Brownsville and Falcon Dam. We need the wall. We need the fencing.”
Trump has repeatedly reaffirmed his commitment to funding the border wall since the shutdown began.
“Every night there [are] running gunfights in the streets between Mexican Marines and the cartels, just eight miles from here. And anyone who says we don’t need a fence, wall, barrier or more law enforcement, they are deceiving the American people.”
He stressed the importance of having a border wall during his first Oval Office address this past Tuesday night.
He has made similar arguments during recent Cabinet meetings and press conferences throughout the shutdown as well.
“On the other side of the border here, about 10 miles away, there is a city of a million people without a police force,” Patrick said. “Every night there [are] running gunfights in the streets between Mexican Marines and the cartels, just eight miles from here. And anyone who says we don’t need a fence, wall, barrier or more law enforcement, they are deceiving the American people.”
Trump and the other officials during the discussion surrounded tables full of recently recovered drugs and weapons that were illegally smuggled across the border. The drugs included 100 grams of heroin and eight keys of methamphetamine as well.
It also included a few firearms, including a rifle.
“There was a suspected currency smuggler,” one of the border patrol agents said. “A stop resulted in further investigation, he gave us consent [to come] into his house, the K-9 unit came in, searched — and this was what was caught. This suspect was expected also of marriage fraud, he was an overstay, and he also had thousands of dollars of illicit transactions.”
House Democrats have made a few attempts to end the shutdown by passing bills intended to fund most of the government — while leaving room to debate border security. They have also been working to pass four separate appropriations bills. But without money for the border wall, the bills are unlikely to get far unless the president gives up on wall funding.
Trump has also floated the idea of declaring a state of emergency to get the border wall funding as well. He recently said during a press conference he might if talks fail. The move could possibly allow the president to free up billions in emergency funds for his wall through the National Emergencies Act. But he is also likely to face lawsuits, too.
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