Government Shutdown 2019: Trump urges wall funding to fix border 'crisis'

EMBED </>More Videos

President Donald Trump made a televised plea for border wall funding Tuesday night, seeking an edge in the shutdown battle with congressional Democrats.

In a somber televised plea, President Donald Trump urged congressional Democrats to fund his long-promised border wall Tuesday night, blaming illegal immigration for the scourge of drugs and violence in the U.S. and framing the debate over the partial government shutdown in stark terms. "This is a choice between right and wrong," he declared.

I-TEAM FACT CHECK: President Trump's Oval Office speech on border wall

Democrats in response accused Trump appealing to "fear, not facts" and manufacturing a border crisis for political gain.

Addressing the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, Trump argued for spending some $5.7 billion for a border wall on both security and humanitarian grounds as he sought to put pressure on newly empowered Democrats amid the extended shutdown.

READ: Full text of Trump's speech on border security

WATCH: Trump's full Oval Office address
EMBED More News Videos

President Donald Trump delivers address on border security from Oval Office.



Trump, who will visit the Mexican border in person on Thursday, invited the Democrats to return to the White House to meet with him on Wednesday, saying it was "immoral" for "politicians to do nothing." Previous meetings have led to no agreement as Trump insists on the wall that was his signature promise in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Responding in their own televised remarks, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of misrepresenting the situation on the border as they urged him to reopen closed government departments and turn loose paychecks for hundreds of thousands of workers.

WATCH: Full Democratic rebuttal from Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Schumer
EMBED More News Videos

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer deliver Democratic rebuttal to Trump's border security speech.



Negotiations on wall funding could proceed in the meantime, they said.

Schumer said Trump "just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration."

Overall, Trump largely restated his case for the wall without offering concessions or new ideas on how to resolve the standoff that has kept large swaths of the government closed for the past 18 days. Speaking in solemn tones from behind the Resolute Desk, he painted a dire picture of killings and drug deaths he argues come from unchecked illegal immigration.

Trump ticked off a string of statistics and claims to make his case that there is a crisis at the border, but a number of his statements were misleading, such as saying the new trade deal with Mexico would pay for the wall, or suggesting through gruesome examples that immigrants are more likely to commit crime.

RELATED: Trump invokes slain Newman officer, calls him 'American hero' during prime-time address

Shifting between empathetic appeals and the dark immigration rhetoric that was a trademark of his presidential campaign, Trump asked: "How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?"

Trump, who has long railed against illegal immigration at the border, has recently seized on humanitarian concerns to argue there is a broader crisis that can only be solved with a wall. But critics say the security risks are overblown and the administration is at least partly to blame for the humanitarian situation.

Trump used emotional language, referring to Americans who were killed by people in the country illegally, saying: "I've met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I've held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible."

The president often highlights such incidents, though studies over several years have found immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States.

Trump has been discussing the idea of declaring a national emergency to allow him to move forward with the wall without getting congressional approval for the billions he's requested. But he did not mention that Tuesday night.

With his use of a formal White House speech instead of his favored Twitter blasts, Trump embraced the ceremonial trappings of his office as he tries to exit a political quagmire of his own making. For weeks he has dug in on a signature campaign promise to his base voters, the pledge to build an impregnable "beautiful" wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The partial government shutdown reached its 18th day, making the closure the second-longest in history. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers are going without pay, and government disruptions are hitting home with everyday Americans

The United States Department of Agriculture said that food stamps will not be affected in February if the government shutdown continues.

The department said in order to avoid anyone losing benefits, they will load them onto recipients' cards by January 20, within the deadline of a provision that allows them to pay out benefits even without a budget. The department expects to pay out the full $4.8 billion in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits for February.

However, the department does not have funding for March. Officials said they will immediately begin looking into their March funding options as soon as February benefits are in place.

More than 2 million Illinois residents were poised to lose SNAP benefits. U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL 1) joined 128 other House Democrats to sign a letter sent to USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue demanding answers on how the department would fund food stamps.
RELATED: Government shutdown to cut office overseeing federal food stamps by 95 percent

The Illinois Department of Public Health also said SNAP benefits will not be affected through the end of January, including the amounts loaded onto LINK cards.

"We're developing a contingency plan should the federal shutdown continue past January," an IDPH spokesman said.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin joined Transportation Security Administration employees at O'Hare International Airport Tuesday morning to talk about the impact; starting Friday they will no longer get a paycheck.

"This is affecting me personally and a lot of people that I have talked to," said TSA Officer Christine Vitel. "I talked to a lot of officer here and they want to know answers. They want to know why the shutdown even exists. Because it has nothing to do with personal shutdown of a budget. It has to do with the wall, and they're upset about it."
RELATED: Senator Dick Durbin to address government shutdown's impact on TSA
EMBED More News Videos

As the government shutdown enters its 18th day, there's growing concern that it could be putting our nation's airports at risk.



Vitel said she just bought a house and is unsure how she, a single mother, is going to pay her bills if the shutdown drags on.

Trump asserted that he can relate to the plight of the federal workers who aren't getting paid, though he acknowledged they will have to "make adjustments" to deal with the shutdown shortfall.

Not so easy, many of them say.

Derrick Padilla, a corrections officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Colorado, said he's nearly depleted his savings working without pay for the past two weeks.

"The bills don't go away," he said. "We're expected to meet our financial obligations, and we're being put in a position to not be able to meet those obligations."

WLS-TV contributed to this report
Related Topics:
politicsgovernment shutdowndonald trumpnancy pelosiu.s. & worldWashington D.C.
(Copyright ©2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)