Addressing the nation Tuesday night, President Donald Trump made his case for Congress to pass a bill funding border security and a physical barrier along the southern border to reopen the government. Trump’s speech directly confronted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her claim that building a wall is immoral.
“Some have suggested a barrier is immoral. Then why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences, and gates around their homes?” Trump asked. “They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside.”
“The only thing that is immoral is for the politicians to do nothing and continue to allow more innocent people to be so horribly victimized,” he added.
Importantly, Trump’s speech was not solely focused on his demand for wall funding. It was a general case defining the illegal immigration problem and putting the blame on congressional Democrats for refusing to fund needed policies to solve it.
“All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration,” the president reminded the nation. “It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic Americans. Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border.”
The president reviewed statistics from ICE, noting that ICE made 266,000 arrests in the last two years of violent illegal immigrant criminals whose crimes include assault, sex crimes, and violent killings.
“This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart, and a crisis of the soul,” the president said.
Trump pointedly noted that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has previously supported building a physical barrier along areas of the southern border where law enforcement officials say it is needed.
“Sen. Chuck Schumer, who you will be hearing from later tonight, has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected president,” Trump said.
“Democrats in Congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis. And they have refused to provide our brave border agents with the tools they desperately need to protect our families and our nation. The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”
“The only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government,” he said.
Trump’s point was succinct. There’s a crisis on the border causing violent crime in America, widespread drug addiction, and harm to America’s communities. The proper role of government, the “sacred duty,” as Trump said, of all elected officials to American citizens is to secure their rights. The president is prepared to do this. He’s waiting on Democrats in Congress to vote for policies needed to secure the border.
President Trump’s speech did not need to resolve the government shutdown in one fell swoop. That was never going to happen. What Trump needed to do — and what he accomplished — was to take his case to the people of the American electorate who live outside the D.C. media bubble, who don’t follow the minute-by-minute politics of the Swamp because they have lives to live. Trump needed to go past media filters, speak clearly, show that illegal immigration is a problem, show he has a solution ready, and put the onus on the Democrats to respond.
The Democratic response was exactly what Trump needed. Not only did Pelosi and Schumer look ghoulish on TV, but they agreed to President Trump’s premise that there is a need to secure the border — and then denied that Congress needs to fund the policies law enforcement is asking for. Schumer attempted to make the government shutdown a bigger crisis than the unsecured border, but this is the challenge for Democrats: Who has the more compelling story? The federal worker whose pay is furloughed, or the victims of illegal immigrant crime — like the family of California police officer Ronil Singh — who will never see their family members again because of a preventable crime?
Trump wins this round.
Watch his speech:
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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