Fri, Jan 11, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Trump heads to border as part of drive for wall

AFP, MCALLEN, Texas

A construction crew on Wednesday replaces a section of the US-Mexico border fence as seen from the Tijuana, Mexico, side.

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump yesterday headed to the US-Mexico border as part of his offensive to build a wall, a day after he stormed out of negotiations when Democratic opponents refused to agree to fund the project in exchange for an end to a government shutdown.

“A total waste of time,” Trump tweeted about his White House meeting with top Democratic congressional leaders. “I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”

US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said that Trump “sort of slammed the table,” then “got up and walked out.”

“Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way,” Schumer said.

On the border, aid workers had a message for Trump: Things are not as he says they are, and the people crossing the border are not murderers and drug traffickers.

“The truth is that a great number of percentage of people entering our country, asking to come in to the country, are not criminals — they are families, children, mothers who really are asking for protection. They’re not coming here to hurt us, but rather for us to help them,” said Sister Norma Pimentel, head of the Catholic Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.

In Washington, according to supporters of Trump at Wednesday’s meeting, the president asked Democratic leaders whether they would agree to fund a wall in exchange for him ending a government shutdown, which he instigated in retaliation for the standoff.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi “raised her hand and said no, not at all,” said Kevin McCarthy, the senior Republican in the House.

“We heard once again that Democratic leaders are unwilling to even negotiate,” US Vice President Mike Pence said.

Pence said that Trump came in good faith.

“The president walked into the room and passed out candy,” Pence said. “I don’t recall him ever raising his voice or slamming his hand.”

Trump’s main lever to exert pressure on the US Congress has been to refuse signing spending bills that cover large areas of government. As a result, about 800,000 federal employees and many more contractors have been without pay for almost three weeks.

Democrats say they will not lift their opposition to the wall, and believe Americans would tire of the shutdown and blame Trump.

However, Trump on Wednesday during a visit with Republican allies in Congress indicated that he would continue to play hardball.

“Whatever it takes,” he told journalists when asked how long the shutdown could continue.

Earlier at the White House, Trump told journalists that if he cannot get his way, he could declare a national emergency — a measure that allows him to bypass Congress and take the wall funds he needs from the military.

“I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t, we might go that route,” he said.

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