WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump made a prime-time appeal for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday evening, claiming it is necessitated by a “growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border.”
“This is a humanitarian crisis,” Trump said in televised remarks from the Oval Office. “A crisis of heart and a crisis of soul.”
The proposed wall has been at the center of the now 17 day-long partial government shutdown.
Trump has called for $5.7 billion in funds to construct the barrier, while Democrats have countered with $1.3 billion for border security.
Painting a grim picture of the situation along the border, including invocations of drug smuggling and crimes carried out by undocumented immigrants, Trump cast the wall as a necessity.
“This barrier is absolutely critical to border security,” Trump said. “This is just common sense.”
While House Democrats have passed stopgap measures aimed at reopening the government, Trump has declined to support any legislation that does not address the barrier.
In his speech Tuesday night, Trump pointed the finger at Democrats, urging viewers to pressure lawmakers into passing a bill that includes the barrier.
“The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”
Notably absent from the president’s remarks was the declaration of a national emergency, a controversial — and questionably legal — concept that Trump has openly flirted with in recent days as a way to construct the wall without Congressional approval.
Trump has said that he would prefer to see Congress find a solution, but various West Wing officials have noted that the White House counsel is looking at the issue as well.