On January 8, day eighteen of a government shutdown, President Donald Trump addressed the nation on the issue of a wall at the Mexican border.
Speaking directly to the base of the Republican Party and using the major networks as a megaphone, Trump repeated many of the same themes he used during the 2016 campaign.
“The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico,” Trump said. It has become increasingly clear that any border wall that may be constructed will not be paid for by the Mexican government.
Trump’s Administration has been pointed on the issue of Mexican immigration, as immigration policy novice Stephen Miller has taken charge of an anti-immigration strategy that has centered around vilifying immigrants from Mexico. Trump has characterized immigrants from Mexico as “drug dealers” and “criminals” and in 2015 when he announced for President he said, “they’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime.”
Exaggerating during his speech, Trump said, “Every day, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country,” when the true daily estimate is an average of 1,087 each day.
“As we quickly approach the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history, Donald Trump continues to play political games tonight with the lives of more than 800,000 workers, many of whom will not get a paycheck this week,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-Calif.)
“His address tonight continues a cruel and shameful political stunt all because he won’t admit that he has failed, and that Mexico isn’t going to pay for his wall like he promised,” she added.
“There was no import, national emergency or credibility that he brought to the table. It was rough,” said Mika Brezinski on the MSNBC show Morning Joe the next morning.
“As predicted, the President’s address tonight was nothing more than the fear-mongering and lies we have come to expect from him. Besides what the President’s own terrible policies have created, there is simply NO emergency at the border,” declared House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
“This humanitarian crisis is largely intensified by the President’s bigoted policies. Since initially taking the campaign trail, Mr. Trump has vowed to construct a wall at the southern border. His relentless pursuit of this false fence of security, that will not prevent trafficking at airports and other ports of entry, has fueled his deceitful utterances of a national security crisis within the past few days,” said Rep. Al Green of Texas in a statement. The politics of border security are always in the news in Texas.
“He has gone as far as to present misleading statistics about terrorists entering the country and to manipulate data about drug trafficking, violent crimes, and job availability for native-born individuals due to increased illegal immigration. Enough is enough,” Rep. Green added.
The standoff on money for Trump’s border wall has created a policy rift that has resulted in a partial government shutdown.
Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist and writer for NNPA as well as a political analyst and strategist as Principal of Win Digital Media LLC. She may be contacted at LBurke007@gmail.com and on twitter at @LVBurke