Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Culture&Arts | By Rick Owen

Trump Mulls Declaring National Emergency Hours Before Address to Nation - Pence

Trump Mulls Declaring National Emergency Hours Before Address to Nation - Pence

His speech was a compendium of arguments, some of dubious nature, that he has made before: the border is being overrun by risky criminals who have committed violent crimes in the USA; migrant women and children are being victimised; the opioid crisis stems directly from a flood tide of illegal drugs crossing the southern border; his plan to secure that border includes advanced technology, more law enforcement personnel and, yes, a barrier costing $US5.7 billion ($8 billion) that would be made of steel slats, in deference, he said, to Democrats who oppose a concrete wall - a change Democrats say they never asked for.

The current closure of a quarter of federal agencies is the second-longest in history, leaving hundreds of thousands of government workers unpaid.

The president also said that 90% of heroin sold in the USA came from Mexico, though U.S. government figures make clear all but a small percentage is smuggled through legal points of entry.

Over the weekend, Trump threatened to declare a national state of emergency in order to use still-unspecified presidential "emergency powers" to force a border wall to be built.

He will meet with Republican lawmakers at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Mr Trump deployed about 5,800 troops to the border and described the migrants as an "invasion".

In real time, critics are tearing into Trump's claims of "a humanitarian crisis at the Southern border", panning the USA president for possible executive overreach. For weeks he has dug in on a signature campaign promise to his base voters, the pledge to build an impregnable "beautiful" wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

But critics say the security risks are overblown and his administration is at least partly to blame for the humanitarian situation.

The number of illegal border crossings is down from 1.6 million in 2000 to fewer than 400,000 past year. "It's also what our professionals at the border want and need", he said.

Major print publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post did live updates that included fact-checking, while The Daily Beast handed over its Twitter account to reporters who cover law enforcement and national security.

Adding, he said that illegal migration strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.

Following Trump's address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer are likely to deliver their own addresses on behalf of the opposition Democratic party.

The White House requested eight minutes to make Trump's case on television.

Two days after Trump's speech, he plans to visit the southern border, the White House announced earlier in the week. Over Caesar salad and iced tea, Trump projected confidence that his strategy was working, Fox News Channel's Bret Baier reported.

The government has been partly shuttered since December 22, when Mr. Trump announced he would not sign a funding bill that did not contain wall funding. That shutdown exemption would break from past practice and could be challenged.

Some correspondents have speculated that he may ultimately resort to such a declaration as a last-ditch tactic to allow him to reopen the government without losing face to Democrats. But GOP leaders believe they can avoid more defections to prevent Pelosi from gaining a veto-proof majority. They have consistently shown that the wall is highly unpopular with everyone other than Republicans. Eighteen days into the second-longest shutdown in US history, Trump has no easy way out of a standoff the numbers suggest he is losing.

In retaliation, Trump has refused to sign off on a broader spending bill, leaving some 800,000 federal employees and many more contractors without pay.

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