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Trump heads to US-Mexico border to insist on wall plan

Trump heads to US-Mexico border to insist on wall plan

AFP
McAllen
President Donald Trump headed on Thursday to the US-Mexico border to push his demand for a wall, a day after he walked out of negotiations with Democrats in a political crisis paralysing the government.
Trump left early from the White House en route for Texas, where he was expected to visit the community of McAllen and meet with local border patrol agents.
“We need border security,” Trump told journalists before boarding the Marine One helicopter.
The Texas trip gives Trump yet another high-profile stage to push his wall plan, following a national television address on Tuesday and his drama-filled abandonment of talks with Democratic opponents on Wednesday.
Trump wants $5.7 billion for construction of a wall that he says is needed to stop a violent crime crisis caused by an unsecure border.
“If you don’t have a steel barrier or a wall of some kind -- strong, powerful -- you are going to have human trafficking, you are going to have drugs pouring across the border, you’re going to have... the gangs coming in,” he said outside the White House. But Democrats say the wall would not solve real US immigration problems and is being promoted as a gimmick to satisfy the president’s right-wing base.
Trump has tried to pressure Congress by refusing to sign off on a host of unrelated, normally uncontroversial government spending, resulting in a partial government shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees, including air traffic controllers and members of the Coast Guard, have been without pay for three weeks.
The frustrated president again repeated his threat that if the Democrats don’t back down, he will declare a national emergency to give himself authority to go around Congress.
“If we don’t make a deal, I think it would be very surprising to me not to declare a national emergency”, he said.
“I’m not prepared not to do that yet, but if I have to, I will. I have no doubt about it.” Analysts say the declaration would likely be challenged in court as a case of presidential overreach, in which case the wall still would face being blocked.
However, it would still give Trump political cover with his base by showing he’d done what he could. At that point, Trump could end the partial government shutdown.
Indicating that the impasse could drag on, Trump said he will skip an international forum in Davos in just under two weeks “if the shutdown continues.”
Trump, who revels in telling stories about his negotiating skills as a New York real estate magnate, has not managed to get the Democrats to budge on his demand for the $5.7 billion.
On Wednesday, he invited Democratic leaders to the White House and began by asking if they would approve the wall in exchange for him ending the government shutdown. When the Democrats said no, he walked out.
“A total waste of time,” Trump tweeted. “I said bye-bye, nothing else works!” Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, told journalists Trump “sort of slammed the table,” then “got up and walked out.” “Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way,” Schumer said.
Trump disputed that on Thursday, saying “I didn’t pound the table. That is a lie.” “I don’t have temper tantrums,” he said. “All of that narrative is a lie.”
In Texas, aid workers say people crossing the border do not present the menace that Trump claims.
“The truth is that a great number of percentage of people entering our country, asking to come in to the country, are not criminals: they are families, children, mothers, who really are asking for protection,” said Sister Norma Pimentel, head of the Catholic Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.

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