US President Donald Trump on Tuesday night addressed the nation from the Oval Office, making his case to the American people on the need to build a wall along the Mexican border.
“My fellow Americans, tonight I'm speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” Trump said at the start of his remarks.
He explained that the US could no longer accommodate immigrants who enter the country illegally.
“We are out of space to hold them and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country," Trump said.
"All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration," he added. "It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages."
Trump discussed “the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end” in justifying his border wall.
The wall, he said, would cost $5.7 billion and “at the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier and not a concrete wall.” The President insisted “the border wall would very quickly pay for itself.”
He noted that the government shutdown continues because Democrats “will not fund border security.”
"This situation could be resolved in a 45-minute meeting," continued Trump. "I have invited congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done."
“Hopefully we can rise above partisan politics” to approve the funding, said the President.
Top Democratic Senators Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer later responded to Trump’s remarks in a live address of their own.
Pelosi began by insisting that “much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice.”
“The fact is: the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge – a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened,” she argued.
“And the fact is: President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must re-open the government,” concluded Pelosi.
Schumer said that the only reason for his address is that “the President of the United States – having failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective, unnecessary border wall, and unable to convince the Congress or the American people to foot the bill – has shut down the government.”
“Our suggestion is a simple one: Mr. President: re-open the government and we can work to resolve our differences over border security. But end this shutdown now,” he added.