President Donald Trump reaffirmed his support for a border wall on Monday night during a rally in El Paso, Texas, as news broke there may be a possible deal and agreement “in principle” to avert another government shutdown.
The federal government is reopened for now, but another shutdown could come later in the week. The sticking point continues to be whether to fund a security wall along the southern border to deter illegal immigration.
Trump seemed somewhat doubtful during his rally over news that congressional negotiators were close to a deal.
“I have to say as I was walking to the stage they said progress is being made with this committee,” Trump told the crowd. “Just so you know, we’re building the wall anyway. They say progress has been made with this committee. Just now. I said, ‘Wait a minute, I need to take care of my people from Texas.’ I don’t even want to hear about it now.”
Trump also said he would not sign any bill that included ideas such as allowing the mass release of criminal aliens or abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
He promised to always stand with the border patrol agency. Trump also stressed that he supports people coming into the country legally — and based on merit.
“So I don’t what they mean by progress,” Trump said on Monday night. “What did happen is the Democrats were being hit hard on the concept of releasing criminals into our society. That has not been playing well. So maybe progress has been made, maybe not. But I had a choice. I could have stayed out there and listened — or I could have come out to the people of El Paso, Texas. I choose you.”
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Trump gave his speech to an enormous crowd of approximately 10,000 people in the same rally style he’s become known for since the early days of his 2016 presidential campaign. He also used the opportunity to tout the other successes of his administration, such as the strengthening economy. Trump echoed many of the same points on border security earlier in the day during a press conference with sheriffs from across the country.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) held his own rally at the same time on Monday night with fellow Democrats in El Paso. He is considered a possible presidential contender but has not officially announced yet.
Trump made fun of him during his speech by saying the crowd O’Rourke got on Monday night was much smaller by comparison.
“So we probably have some good news, but we’ll see,” Trump said. “We’re doing what we have to. The wall is being built; it will continue at a rapid pace. The Rio Grande, it’s happening — go check it out. We proudly welcome those that come lawfully and support our values in the United States and want to strengthen our society and help us with all the companies moving into the United States.”
The partial government shutdown was well into a record number of days when it finally came to an end on January 25. Trump signed a short-term spending bill that gave congressional negotiators three weeks to devise a budget proposal to fund the rest of the government.
It also has to overcome the underlining dispute over border security funding.
The House and Senate formed the conference committee soon after with a mission to reach a deal on border security before the next shutdown deadline of February 15. But that deadline is less than a week away now. Lawmakers did announce about an hour before Trump’s rally that they had an agreement in principle, according to The Washington Post and other news outlets.
Trump said late last year that he would not sign any more spending bills that did not include $5.7 billion for the border wall. Democratic leaders opposed providing any funding for the wall — which led both sides to cause the partial government shutdown on December 22.
But the president eventually signed the short-term bill to allow for more negotiating time.
“Illegal immigration hurts all Americans, including millions of legal immigrants, by driving down wages, draining public resources and claiming countless innocent lives,” Trump said during the rally. “It’s a bad situation going on and we stopped it. We have taken out thousands and thousands of people from MS-13. We’re bringing them the hell out of our country.”
Trump has long promised to crack down on illegal immigration — and a wall along the southern border as been a big part of that. But those efforts have been made all the more complicated as groups of migrants have shown up in large numbers. The migrant caravans have caused tensions along the southern border and a contentious policy dispute.
“But if we had proper border security with a border wall, we wouldn’t have to work so hard,” Trump said Monday night. “It would be a lot safer and a lot better. My administration is committed to ending illegal immigration while modernizing our legal immigration system, which has been in terrible shape for many, many decades, to prioritize the admission of those who can support themselves financially and contribute to our economy.”
Trump has worked to prevent the migrants from crossing the southern border illegally.
His administration has since made the migrants wait across the border while their asylum claims are assessed. The issue is that many migrants claim asylum after already getting caught in the country illegally.
The illegal immigrants are often released a short time after claiming asylum. They’re asked to return for a court date to determine their claims — but there is no guarantee they will show up. Trump is hoping to avoid that problem by deterring them from illegally entering the country.
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