President Donald Trump made a trip to Texas on Thursday to advocate for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the source of an ongoing stalemate between the president and congressional Democrats.
The purpose of the president’s visit was to highlight the supposed “immigration crisis at our Southern Border,” a common refrain from administration officials as they seek to justify shutting down part of the federal government over the wall. Unfortunately for Trump, he was presented with information and made numerous remarks that undercut his claims about an emergency at the border.
The president participated in a roundtable discussion on border security with Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz (R-TX), Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, and relatives of victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants (even though immigrants — including those who are undocumented — are much less likely to commit crimes than native-born U.S. citizens).
Trump defended his long-desired wall by noting, “a wheel is older than a wall” and that all of the vehicles in the parking lot have wheels.
Agents also showed the president that tunnels are already being used to cross the border under existing structures — like walls.
Following the roundtable, Trump toured the border in McAllen.
Despite saying the government shutdown “could be solved in a 45-minute meeting” during his prime time address on Tuesday, Trump stormed out of a meeting with Democratic leadership on Wednesday after a half-hour. During his visit to Texas, the president said of the shutdown, “I can have that worked out in 15 minutes.”
Trump also repeated his frequent lie that his wall is already under construction, and announced that if he does declare a national emergency to build the wall without congressional approval, “somebody may sue to stop it, but we would win that suit very quickly.”
Of course, Republicans controlled the entire federal government for the past two years and didn’t build Trump’s proposed wall during that time despite the supposed emergency.
Trump also falsely claimed that border apprehensions are at a record high, even though CBP data shows apprehensions are at the lowest level since 1971 and have been in steady decline since 2000.
Despite telling Democratic leadership, “I will be the one to shut it down, I am not going to blame you for it” in the White House on December 11, Trump continues to blame Democrats for the government shutdown, which is on the verge of becoming the longest in the nation’s history.
Democrats approved a bill to fully fund the government upon taking control of the House last week. Though that legislation is nearly identical to what the Senate passed before Trump changed his mind under pressure from conservative media, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated he will no longer support the spending bill that he recently voted for.