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Trump speech: President accused of 'stoking fear' over border immigration as he demands wall funding to end 'crisis'

Mr Trump steers clear of declaring national emergency over border but Republicans and Democrats are no closer to deal to end shutdown

Chris Stevenson
New York
,Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 09 January 2019 05:58 GMT
Donald Trump falsely claims ex-presidents told him they wanted the Mexico border wall

Donald Trump has told the American people that the US is facing a “humanitarian and security crisis” on its southern border during his first-ever prime time address from the Oval Office on Tuesday, as a nineteenth day of partial government shutdown loomed.

Mr Trump urged congressional Democrats to fund his long-promised border wall in the sombre televised address that was heavy with dark immigration rhetoric, which caused Democrats to accuse the president of “stoking fear”.

“How much more American blood must be shed before Congress does its job?” he said, recounting gruesome details of murders he said were committed by illegal immigrants.

But after days of hinting he might use presidential powers to declare an emergency as a first step toward directing money for the wall without congressional approval, Mr Trump said he would continue seeking a solution to the impasse with Congress.

Democrats have so far flat out rejected Mr Trump’s demand for $5.6bn (£4.4bn) to build the wall, and the budgetary showdown over that money has left 800,000 public sector staff either furloughed or working without pay until the issue is resolved.

All major US television networks aired Mr Trump’s speech, prompting Democrats, who say a wall would be expensive, inefficient and immoral, to seek equal time in an address directly after the president.

They used it to accuse the president of implementing fear tactics and spreading misinformation about the situation along the border.

“The president has chosen fear. We want to start with the facts,” said Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives.

“The fact is, President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety and well-being of the American people and withhold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation, many of them veterans,” she said.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday found that 51 per cent of adults mainly blamed Mr Trump for the shutdown, up four percentage points from late December, while 32 per cent blamed congressional Democrats and seven per cent faulted Republicans in Congress

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Mr Trump has invited the congressional leadership from both parties to another meeting at the White House on Wednesday afternoon to try and break the deadlock. Mr Trump then travels to the border on Thursday.

To see how events unfolded, follow our liveblog below

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Reuters contributed to this report


Welcome to The Independent's live coverage as the US enters the eighteenth day of government shutdown over funding for Donald Trump's controversial border wall policy.

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 08:30

Shutdown becomes second-longest in history

The government shutdown enters its eighteenth day on Tuesday, becoming the joint-second longest in history. 

It has now matched the 18 days the government was shut down for in 1978 over a dispute caused when president Jimmy Carter vetoed funding for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and public works projects he considered a waste of money.

The only shutdown to surpass the current standoff took place for 21 days between December 1995 and January 1996, when Democratic president Bill Clinton and Republican house speaker Newt Gingrich reached an impasse in budgets talks over a disagreement about tax cuts.

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 08:47

Not sure what the government shutdown has been caused or what its consequences are? The Independent's in-depth explainer will help you understand the situation:

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 09:11

Donald Trump is due to address the nation in a televised speech on Tuesday evening, attempting to sell his border wall to the public and convince Democrats in congress to approve funding for the policy.

The barrier on the US border with Mexico is the president's signature policy, but lawmakers have rejected his demands to ring fence $5.7bn to help build the project.

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 09:55

Air travel hit by shutdown 

Security queues at LaGuardia airport in New York on Monday (pic: AP)The partial government shutdown is starting to affect air travel, The Associated Press is reporting.

Travelers experienced long lines at checkpoints at some airports over the weekend, seemingly caused by a shortage of security office caused by an increase in staff not turning up for work while they are not getting paid.

Perhaps more worrying, safety inspectors have not been on the job.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman said Monday inspectors are being called back to work on a case-by-case basis, with a priority put on inspecting airline fleets.

So far, the impact of the shutdown has been most visible at closed government buildings and national parks.

However, increasing problems with air travel show how the issue is beginning to be felt more widely – if the shutdown continues, food stamp recipients will have to go without aid.

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 10:27

The Republican Party has reasserted Donald Trump will not move forward and agree a spending plan for the US government unless it including funding for a border wall.

The president threatened last week he could keep the government closed for “months or even years” if a deal with Democrats is not reached.

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 10:54

Trump ‘considering’ national emergency to force through border wall funding

Vice president Mike Pence has said Donald Trump is exploring whether to trigger a national emergency in order to force through a funding package for his border wall without needing the approval of congress.

The White House is looking increasingly likely to declare a state of emergency to allow Mr Trump to bypass congress and Mr Pence said the administration was exploring how such a move could be taken.

Asked on Monday whether the president would declare a national emergency imminently, Mr Pence said: “He’s made no decision on that.”

Asked how thoroughly the White House counsel’s office had reviewed the possibility of a possible emergency declaration and the chance of accompanying legal challenges, the vice president added: “They're looking at it, and the president is considering it.”

Any move to declare a national emergency would prove controversial and is likely draw legal challenges.

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 11:46

Donald Trump’s Oval Office speech on Tuesday – his first as president - will be followed on Thursday by a visit to the US border with Mexico.

The president is hoping the trip will provide an opportunity to hammer home his argument that a wall running the entire length of the border between the two countries is necessary.

White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, tweeted that he will use the visit to “meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis.”

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 12:23

 New Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has accused Donald Trump of “hostage taking” over his demands of funding for a border wall.

The 29-year-old progressive, who has becoming something of a hate figure in Republican circles, said the president’s tactics as the government shutdown enters its third week left Democrats unable to seek a compromise.

“This is called hostage-taking And no one can compromise or negotiate with that,” she said.

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 12:57

Democrats demand ‘equal airtime’ in shutdown debate 

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and house speaker Nancy Pelosi (pic: Reuters)House speaker Nancy Pelosi and top senate Democrat Chuck Schumer called on US networks to give Democrats a chance to respond to Mr Trump’s presidential Oval Office speech.

The prime-time address will be aired live by ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and NBC.

“Now that the television networks have decided to air the president's address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime,” they wrote in a joint statement released Monday evening.

Tom Barnes8 January 2019 13:35

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