Donald Trump has claimed that “much of” his promised border wall to separate the US from Mexico has “already been fully renovated or built”, even though he has forced a government shutdown over a $5bn funding request for that wall.
President Trump said on Twitter that an as-of-yet unratified trade agreement his administration has negotiated with Mexico and Canada is making Mexico pay for the wall he has promised his Republican base. He cited no evidence for that claim and Mexico has disputed it.
In that very same tweet, he said that the wall which is the centre of the near-two week long shutdown has already been largely completed.
Just over 30 miles (48 kilometres) of border wall has been built since Mr Trump became president. All told, 685 miles (1,046 kilometres) of the 1,954-mile (3,126 kilometre) border has fencing or walls.
“Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built. We have done a lot of work," Mr Trump wrote. "$5.6 Billion Dollars that House has approved is very little in comparison to the benefits of National Security. Quick payback!”
“Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal,” the same tweet said, referring to the revised trade agreement he has negotiated with Canada and Mexico.
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees have been forced to work without pay since the partial government shutdown kicked in on 22 December after funding lapsed.
The shutdown came after Mr Trump’s administration had indicated just a couple of days before that that it would not let a lack of border wall funding force a government shutdown. However, having seen the reaction from a number of major supporters in the media to the idea of him backing down, Mr Trump's stance hardened.
Democrats have shown little appetite for meeting Mr Trump’s demands for the over $5bn in wall funding, but have offered up $1.3 billion in border security funding. That is part of two bills aimed at re-starting the government Democrats plan on pushing forward once they take control of the House of Representatives when the new session begins on Thursday.
During a meeting with his cabinet on Wednesday, Mr Trump said that he is willing to wait as long as needed to ensure that the border wall he has promised is completed.
"The United States needs a physical barrier” Mr Trump said during that meeting. It “needs a wall”.
After days of trading barbs with Democrats over the shutdown, Mr Trump has invited both Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress to the White House for a border security briefing on Wednesday afternoon, the 12th day of the government closure.
Department of Homeland Security officials will brief the congressional leaders on the last day that Republicans control both chambers of Congress. The meeting will be held in the White House Situation Room.
However, the White House has dismissed the proposed plan from Democrats in the House, who are led by presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“The Pelosi plan is a non-starter because it does not fund our homeland security or keep American families safe from human trafficking, drugs, and crime,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
At a Cabinet meeting early on Wednesday afternoon Mr Trump said that Homeland Security Department officials will make a plea for the border wall when they brief congressional leaders later.
"The United States needs a physical barrier," the president told the meeting, saying the use of drones and other technology is not enough.
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