President Donald Trump wants you to believe that the southern border is now secured because of his tough measures. But he also wants you to believe the same border is in crisis and requires the construction of an expensive border wall to secure it.
Trump posted this seemingly self-defeating case on Tuesday ahead of his scheduled meeting over funding the government with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A key sticking point in negotiations that needs to be resolved to avoid a partial government shutdown is money for a border wall.
Trump wants $5 billion from Congress in the package to put toward construction of a border wall that is estimated to cost about $20 billion. Pelosi last week said no, saying during a news conference that Democrats in her caucus find it to be “immoral, ineffective, and expensive.” Pelosi also reminded people that one of Trump’s signature campaign promises was that Mexico would pay for the wall, not American taxpayers.
Trump sent a tweet Tuesday morning accusing Democrats (falsely) of pushing for “Open Borders for anyone to come in. This brings large scale crime and disease.” In fact, Democrats don’t support open borders, and experts say migrants do not pose a public health risk.
Trump then boasted about his achievements at the border:
But less than an hour later, Trump seemed to realize that claiming the border is secure is not a good bargaining position ahead of a meeting about funding a border wall.
In another tweet he said “A Great Wall” at the southern border is needed so desperately that he’ll order the military to build it if Congress won’t allocate money for it. (There’s just one problem: The president doesn’t have the authority to do that without congressional approval.)
Trump also falsely claimed that “much of the Wall … has already been built.” The $1.6 billion Congress allocated for border security measures last year actually expressly prohibited funds from being spent on new wall designs.
“People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built,” Trump tweeted. “If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!”
Trump’s fearmongering about immigration didn’t prove popular with voters during a midterm cycle in which Democrats flipped control of the House. But the White House hasn’t ruled out shutting down the government if Trump doesn’t get his way.
Finally, while Trump touts the measures he’s taken to secure the border, numbers compiled by US Customs and Border Patrol indicate that the 62,456 border-crossers were arrested or denied entry last month — the highest number during the Trump presidency, according to the Washington Post.