The White House tried to hold jittery congressional Republicans in line on the 19th day of the partial government shutdown, with no end in sight to the situation over President Trump’s demand for a wall at the U.S. southern border.
There’s growing concern about the toll the shutdown is taking on everyday Americans, including disruptions in payments to farmers and trouble for some home buyers who are seeking loans.
A growing number of Republicans are uncomfortable with the route the partial shutdown is taking and Trump’s response to it. They are particularly concerned about the administration’s talk of possibly declaring a national emergency at the border.
The Republican president got a sense of that concern from those in his own party at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Tuesday night, in his first prime-time address from the Oval Office, Trump argued that the wall is needed to resolve a security and humanitarian “crisis.” He blamed illegal immigration for the problems of drugs and violence in the country.
In response, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, both Democrats, accused Trump of appealing to “fear, not facts” and manufacturing a border crisis to gain public support. They urged him to reopen closed government departments.
Trump plans a visit to the border Thursday as he continues to argue for the wall that was a signature promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.
For now, Trump sees this as winning politics.
In his address, Trump ticked off a string of statistics and arguments to make his case that there is a crisis at the border, but a number of his statements were misleading, such as that the new trade deal with Mexico would pay for the wall.
Trump used emotional language, referring to Americans who were killed by people in the country illegally, saying: “I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible.”
The president often highlights such incidents, although studies over several years have found that illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States.