In his first Oval Office address to the nation, President Donald Trump sounded the alarm about what he called “a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul” resulting from America’s porous southern border.
“…the impasse over border security could be solved “in a 45-minute meeting.”
In his nine-minute speech, Trump did not invoke the emergency powers of the president, as had been floated around Washington in recent days, but instead called out Democrats who have repeatedly voted for various types of physical barriers over the years — until Trump was elected president. His address was less a threat against the opposing party than an attempt to convince the American people of the reality of a growing crisis that has divided the nation bitterly along partisan and ideological lines. But Trump said Democrats “have refused to acknowledge the crisis.”
The president’s insistence on a border wall, which he rebranded during the address a “physical barrier” (steel, not concrete, as he previously proposed), and the Democrats’ refusal to provide a single dollar for it have driven the partial shutdown of the federal government into a third week. So the president, speaking in an unaccustomed forum, outlined the array of humanitarian and security issues that necessitated his demand for border security funding and his request for airtime from the major television networks and cable channels, reluctantly granted by outlets that have been unabashedly critical of him at every turn.
Trump declared that inadequate border security is responsible for 90% of the heroin entering the country, a large part of the nation’s opioid crisis that has taken more lives than the total of American military killed in the Vietnam War. He noted that 266,000 aliens with criminal records already have been apprehended and enumerated alarming statistics on violence committed by illegal immigrants since he became president: 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 murders. He shared several stories of tragedies perpetrated by illegals, among them criminal gangs, drug smugglers, and human traffickers.
He termed the crisis “a cycle of human suffering I am determined to end.”
The president said the $5.7 billion he has requested from Congress is a figure provided to him by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency), law enforcement professionals, and border agents. He went on to say that his plan is based on “common sense,” declaring that the impasse over border security could be solved “in a 45-minute meeting.” He decried the privileged patrons who are dead set against a physical barrier on the border who protect themselves with walls on their own property, saying the construction of a wall is necessary “not because we hate the people outside it, but because we love the people inside it.”
The president closed with an impassioned plea for action from Congress, saying his call to arms represents “a choice between right and wrong, a choice between justice and injustice….I swore to protect our country, and that is what I will always do, so help me God.”
Next, the president will meet with congressional leaders – their third meeting since the shutdown began — and will visit the southern border. Judging by Trump’s continued insistence on billions in funding for border security and Democrats’ stubborn refusal to bend, the prospects for ending the deadlock anytime soon appear bleak.