Donald Trump claims ‘crisis’ at southern border

US president stops short of declaring national emergency in televised speech

Donald Trump has again called for $5.7 billion to pay for his border wall
(Image credit: Carlos Barria-Pool/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has used his first televised address to the nation from the Oval Office to claim a growing humanitarian and security crisis at the border between the United States and Mexico.

Trump also used the eight-minute speech to repeat his demand for $5.7 billion (£4.6 billion) to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, and blamed Democrats for the partial government shutdown that has left hundreds of thousands of government employees either furloughed, or working for no pay.

However, Trump stopped short of declaring a national emergency, as many observers were expecting him to do, in order to obtain funding for his border wall and solve the government shutdown that is now into its 19th day.

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The New York Times notes that in several instances, Trump made false claims or made statements that were misleading and required more context, including the claim that Democrats are responsible for the government shutdown.

During a fractious meeting with senior Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer late last year, Trump said: “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut [the government] down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”

Reaction to the speech was mixed along party lines. Republican supporters of Trump praised the speech, with Senator Lindsey Graham telling Fox News that this was the “most presidential” he had seen Trump so far.

Democrat reaction to the speech was more critical, with Pelosi and Schumer holding a joint press conference to call on Trump to end the government shutdown.

“The fact is: President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government,” Pelosi said.

Schumer went on to accuse Trump of trying to “govern by temper tantrum”, the BBC reports.

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