Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Last night, President Trump delivered a prime time speech titled "Humanitarian and National Security Crisis on the Southern Border." Here is the text. Here is the CNN "fact check."
It was President Trump's first prime time speech from the Oval Office. The President apparently sought to build support for his adamant stand to force Congress to fund the "border wall," a position that has led to the shutdown of the federal government.
I eagerly watched the speech in real time and was struck by President Trump's flat and relatively subdued reading of the remarks -- remarks that differed little from his general stump speech on "the wall," the looming border "crisis, and immigration generally. The speech was a relatively short 8-9 minutes.
President Trump discussed what he characterized as "uncontrolled illegal migration." He repeated the claim that undocumented immigration most hurts African American and Hispanic workers, which contrasts sharply with his general insensitivity toward African American and Latino civil rights. The President Trump also emphasized that drugs flow across the border that kill millions of Americans annually and cost the nation billions of dollars.
In building up the sense of crisis, the President mentioned "criminal gangs" and human traffickers. Ultimately, Congress must address this "crisis of the heart" and "crisis of the soul."
President Trump invoked various crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, including the recent tragic killing of a sheriff in the Central Valley of California, and MS13. He rhetorically asked "how much more American blood must we shed?"
President Trump stated that he has made a proposal to Congress that would end the "crisis." The proposal -- explained in this fact sheet -- would add resources to border enforcement, including $5.7 billion for a "steel barrier" along the U.S./Mexico border. He sees the barrier and heightened enforcement measures as "just common sense."
President Trump went on to criticize the Democrats for the government shutdown and depriving the government of the resources to do what is needed to ensure border security. His is the "only solution" that defends the borders and will reopen the federal government. To facilitate matters, President Trump said that he would invite congressional leaders to meet.
After President Trump's speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leaders Chuck Schumer (D-NY) responded. See the video of their remarks below. They blamed President Trump for the shutdown and for attempting to create a climate of "misinformation, malice, and fear" surrounding immigration and the border. Pelosi emphasized that the migrant children at the border "are not a security threat but a humanitarian challenge." Schumer stated that President Trump's attempt to concoct a crisis was an effort to "divert attention" from his failing government.
After listening to President Trump and the Democratic response, I found myself uncertain about the prospects for coming to an agreement that will allow for a reopening of the U.S. government. The President is not moving. The Democrats are not moving. Only time will tell where the nation goes from here. Perhaps it has been said too often in the first years of the Trump administration but it does seem as if we are in uncharted waters. And no one can say what lays ahead.
UPDATE (4:15 PST Jan. 9): President Trump in his speech talked of meeting with Democratic leaders. It appears that the meeting did not go well as the dueling speeches did not leave much room for negotiation. According to CNN, President Donald Trump walked out of discussions to end the government shutdown, calling the talks with congressional Democrats "a total waste of time."
Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019