WASHINGTON— As he wages a pressure campaign aimed at forcing Congress’ hand over funding a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Trump traveled to McAllen, Texas Thursday to visit the border.
Trump began his visit with a roundtable at the U.S. Border Patrol’s McAllen Station, sitting down with lawmakers and agents in front of seized weapons and drugs.
In an ironic twist, the contraband, he was told, was seized from points of entry, and not the portions of the border he has been calling to be barricaded.
After, Trump went to the banks of the Rio Grande, where he trudged along with border agents, stopping to salute those who passed by in a low-flying helicopter.
The trip comes as the federal government hits its 20th day of a partial shutdown, one that was prompted after Trump declined to approve funding measures until Congress passed $5.7 billion for a barrier.
Congressional Democrats have countered with $1.3 billion for border security, but declined to back the wall, leading to an impasse that has no clear solution.
Prior to the leaving the White House, Trump told reporters that it would be “surprising” if he didn’t declare a national emergency to sidestep Congress if negotiations failed.
While at the border, he fielded questions from reporters on the controversial prospect.
“We can declare a national emergency. We shouldn’t have to,” Trump said. “This is common sense.”
“What you see on the border, that’s not as much as a problem that they come through the border and they go out throughout our nation,” Trump added. “You’ll have crime in Iowa, you’ll have crime in New Hampshire, you’ll have crime in New York.”
Trump declined to give a timetable for his decision.
The president made time on his trip for an interview by the border with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, one of the president’s top media supporters.