'A humanitarian crisis': Donald Trump's attempt at winning over Americans for border wall funding

Donald Trump's attempt at rallying support for border wall funding has fallen flat with Democrats who claim he's "manufactured" a crisis.

The US President addressed the country in a televised speech on Wednesday (Tuesday night local time) where he attempted to gain support over his request for more funding for his proposed border wall.

"Tonight I'm speaking to you because there's a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border," Mr Trump said, adding that the country can't cope with "uncontrolled immigration".

He said customs and border patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter the US on a daily basis. "We are out of space to hold them and we have no way to promptly return them," he said.

"America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation, but all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration.

"It strains public resources, and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African Americans and Hispanic Americans."

He said thousands of Americans have been "brutally killed" by those who illegally enter the country. He added, "Thousands more lives will be lost if we don't act right now."

The President's rally for public support comes after he triggered a federal government shutdown over funding for his proposed border wall.

Democrats, who now hold a majority of control in the House of Representatives, refused to endorse the President's request for US$5.6 billion to build 200 miles of new fencing along the 2000-mile border.

Mr Trump said the money requested to fund the wall would pay for itself as the cost of drugs entering the country each year "exceeds $5 billion". He also noted the US' new trade deal with Mexico, NAFTA, which he said would "indirectly" cover the cost of the wall.

The border wall is a campaign promise Mr Trump frequently made to his supporters, claiming Mexico would pay for it. In his speech he slammed the Democrats for opposing the funding.

"Democrats have refused to acknowledge the crisis."

"The federal government remains shutdown because Democrats will not fund border security," he added. "This situation could be solved in a 45 minute meeting. Hopefully we can rise above partisan politics."

Democrats dish it back

Mr Trump's Democratic opponents were quick to dish it back. After his speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer responded in their own televised joint-speech.

"Sadly, much of what we've heard from President Trump throughout this shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice," Ms Pelosi said.

"The President has chosen fear and we want to start with the facts. The fact is, on the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to re-open government and find smart, effective border security solutions.

"But the President is rejecting these bipartisan bills which would re-open government over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall."

Democrats have offered US$1.3 billion for border security measures, including increased surveillance and fencing, but that doesn't appear to be enough for Mr Trump.

Mr Schumer noted that the President "failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective and unnecessary border wall" and said he has been "unable to convince Congress or the American people to foot the bill".

"No President should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down, hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage."

The President said in his speech that Mr Schumer has "repeatedly supported a physical barrier along with many other Democrats."

They changed their minds, he said, "only after I was elected President."

"This is a choice between right and wrong, justice and injustice," Mr Trump said. "When I took oath of office I swore to protect our country and that is what I will always do, so help me God."

US Vice President Mike Pence supports Mr Trump, having said the US faces an "undeniable crisis" at its southern border. He has also urged Democrats to "come to the table" to negotiate an end to the government shutdown.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: