President Donald Trump Wednesday asked the Democrats to allocate a whopping USD 5.7 billion funding for his controversial US-Mexico border wall plan to halt a "growing humanitarian and security crisis" and cited the cold-blooded murder of an Indian-origin police officer by an illegal immigrant to implement his signature campaign promise. Trump's remarks during in his maiden prime-time address to the nation from the Oval Office came amid a partial government shutdown that is days away from becoming the longest in US history. In his eight-minute address carried live by all the major US television networks, Trump said the federal government remained shut because of the Democrats and sought to pressure on them to agree to his request for funding for the wall as a condition of ending the 18-day government shutdown that has crippled many offices.
Trump said illegal immigrants and drugs flowing across the porous southern border with Mexico posed a serious threat to American safety. Funding for a border wall has been the main sticking point in negotiations with Democrats to reopen parts of the federal government. A wall along the US-Mexico border was one of Trump's signature campaign promises. Trump wants USD 5.7 billion to build the wall, even though he said repeatedly during his campaign that he would make Mexico pay for the structure.The standoff triggered a partial government shutdown on December 22, shuttering nine federal departments and several smaller agencies and forcing some 800,000 workers to go on unpaid leave or work without pay. The shutdown will enter its 19th day Wednesday, making it the second-longest in history after the 21-day shutdown in 1995 96.
Trump in the past few days had threatened to declare a national emergency over the issues that would have allowed him to start building the wall with military funds without congressional authorisation. But in Wednesday's address he stopped short of declaring a national emergency. The Californian police have arrested 33-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico identified as Gustavo Perez Arriaga on charges of killing Singh. The Democrats immediately dismissed Trump's assertion on border security and accused the president of holding the nation hostage to a partial government shutdown for more than a fortnight now. "Much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice. The President has chosen fear," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in the Democratic address to the nation immediately after Trump's address.
"President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety and well-being of the American people and withhold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation many of them veterans," she alleged. Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer said the American democracy doesn't work the way Trump wants. "We don't govern by temper tantrum. 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," he said.