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Donald Trump

Donald Trump plans prime-time TV address on immigration before visiting Mexico border where he wants to build his wall

  • The US president showed no sign of backing off his pledge to build a border wall
  • His demand for more than US$5 billion in funding for the wall is at the heart of the US government shutdown
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 4:55am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 5:36am

US President Donald Trump plans to deliver a prime-time address to the nation on immigration on Tuesday and visit the US-Mexico border on Thursday, as his administration grapples with a partial federal shutdown that began 16 days ago over his demand for funding for a border wall.

The Republican president showed no sign of backing off his pledge to build a wall, which he says is necessary to stem illegal immigration. Democrats in Congress disagree, with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling the building of a wall “immoral”.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders announced on Twitter that Trump will make a trip to the border on Thursday and said details would be released soon. The visit likely will highlight security concerns pushed by the administration as justification for the wall.

A short while later, Trump said in his own Twitter post that he will address the nation on Tuesday at 9pm Eastern time on the border situation.

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Lawmakers and Trump hit an impasse last month over Trump’s demand that a bill to keep the federal government operational include money for a wall along the border with Mexico. About 800,000 government workers are either furloughed or working without pay.

Trump said in December he would be “proud” to shut the government down over the wall and last week told lawmakers it could last months. However, pressure to reach a deal is likely to grow as the effects of the shutdown are felt, including possible cuts in food stamp programmes and delayed tax refunds.

Trump skipped a planned trip to Florida to stay in Washington during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays after large chunks of the federal government were shuttered on December 22. He exhorted Democrats in Congress to “come back from vacation” and approve funding for his wall.

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Democrats returned to Washington in the new year, taking control of the US House of Representatives, and passed legislation to reopen all closed government agencies but did not include wall funding.

This week, they will pass a series of bills to reopen federal agencies after weekend talks between the Trump administration and Democratic negotiators failed to end a stalemate.

On Sunday, Trump pledged not to bend in his demand for US$5.6 billion to pay for the wall but said the barrier could be made of steel instead of concrete as a potential compromise with Democrats who refuse to fund it.

Trump has argued the wall is necessary for national security and has tried to link terrorism to illegal immigration, without providing evidence, as justification for the plan. Democrats say the wall is expensive and inefficient, as well as contrary to American values.

Trump visited the southern border last March.