President Donald Trump insisted that the construction of his border wall is absolutely critical for U.S. security.
Amidst the second largest government shutdown since 1976, the United States President Donald Trump addressed the nation in an 8-minutes televised speech on Tuesday about the need to build a barrier to prevent the entry of migrants into the country.
"My dear Americans, today I speak to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border," Trump said adding that the construction of the border wall is "a choice between good and evil, and between justice and injustice."
U.S. President reiterated his demand that US$5.7 billion be approved for the wall, which he expects to be built with steel instead of concrete.
Trump argued that the wall would be paid "on its own", considering that it would prevent the arrival of illegal drugs, which cost the U.S. about US$500,000 million per year, according to his calculations.
Tell your Senators: it's time to take up the House bill on re-opening our government. Our National Parks are getting trashed, people are out of work, all because of Trump's racist, useless, & wastefully expensive Wall!! #care2 https://t.co/VW6kndGkJg— Jennifer Gilbert (@JennyFear666) January 9, 2019
Despite Trump's continued assertions about the immigration crisis, the number of people who have been detained on the US-Mexico border has dropped dramatically in recent decades.
The number of people arrested trying to cross the U.S. southern border fell from 1.6 million in 2000 to less than 400,000 in 2018, according to official data.
The presidential address was preceded by uncertainty about the possibility of Trump declaring the national emergency, a mechanism that would allow him to use military funds in the construction of his wall.
In 1976, the US Congress passed the National Emergency Law, which allows the President to declare a national emergency at his discretion and that does not offer any concrete definition of "emergency" or the required criteria.This law activates a set of powers by which Trump could order the construction of the border wall.
Among others, Trump would be able to reallocate military spending on construction projects to build the border wall, which would then be considered "a necessary structure for national defense."
As soon as the presidential address concluded, the Democratic leaders rebutted Trump’s affirmations and accused him of using fear tactics and spreading misinformation about the situation along the border.
“The president has chosen fear. We want to start with the facts,” Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, said, stressing “the fact is, President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety and well-being of the U.S. people and withhold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation.”
U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer urged President Trump to reopen the government while the debate over immigration policies continued.
Besides pointing out that the U.S. symbol "should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall," he said that "our suggestion is a simple one. Mr. President: Reopen the government and we can work to resolve our differences over border security. But end this shutdown now."