Trump gave a roughly 10-minute address to the nation tonight to stress the need for additional border control, including a “steel barrier,” however he not did declare a national emergency as some had suggested he might do. Instead, Trump said he would continue meeting with Democrats tomorrow to try to resolve the government shutdown. This was essentially the same pitch that Trump has been making for months but it was more polished than he usually is when speaking off-the-cuff.
“America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, “Trump said. He continued, “But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.
“Every week 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.
“In the past two years, ICE officers have made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings.”
Trump went on to say, “This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.”
Speaking of the border wall, he said it would “very quickly pay for itself” given the cost of illegal drugs which cross the border. He also said the new trade deal with Mexico would “indirectly” pay for it. “The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only,” Trump said, adding, “Democrats will not fund border security.”
His best line of the night came when he defended the morality of a wall: “Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside but because they love the people on the inside.”
Trump then offered several instances where Americans had been murdered by illegal immigrants. He asked “those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security” to imagine how they would feel if their loved one had been killed by someone who had crossed the border illegally.
Trump’s claim that the border wall will be paid for indirectly is obviously a big stretch from the campaign promise he made dozens of times in 2016. Still, by focusing on the cost of illegal immigration to both immigrants and Americans he makes an emotional case for more border security.
Needless to say, I don’t think it will have changed any minds on the left. Not everyone in the Democratic caucus opposes border security but everyone wants Trump to fail to achieve one of his signature campaign promises and that means denying him the wall no matter what. So that’s what they’ll continue to do at tomorrow’s White House meeting.
Here’s Trump’s speech and below that is the response from Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi: