Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – True to form, president Donald Trump’s populated his speech meant to justify his $5.7 billion Mexican border wall with outright lies admixed with blatant racism and fear-mongering.
Trump tried in vain to convince the American people he was telling the truth when he claimed his border wall is needed to stem a fictional “immigration crisis” at the border with Mexico. He again demanded American taxpayers pay for his “beautiful” steel border wall, and offered no concessions to amend the $5.7 billion he demands.
Trump’s nine minute-long rant on prime time TV today was widely criticized for being packed with absolute lies to make the point the wall Trump had long said Mexico will pay for must now be paid for by Americans.
Trump portrayed the Mexico border as an open gate for criminals such as rapists, terrorists and people with dangerous diseases. It was a refrain from the lies he told when he first announced his candidacy for U.S. president in 2015.
In an example of bare-faced racism, Trump said his wall will stop the shedding of “American blood” by illegal immigrants from Mexico and South America. He emphasized that illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexican border is, more than anything else, a threat to the lives of Americans.
He enumerated horrific examples of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, including a “beheading and dismembering. He said he would “never forget the pain” of survivors he’d met — if he’d met with any at all, which is doubtful.
“How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job? For those who refuse to compromise in the name of border security, I would ask to imagine if it was your child, your husband, or your wife whose life was so cruelly shattered and totally broken,” said Trump, who has lied or misled more than 6,000 times since assuming the presidency in January 2017.
Trump also repeated his outright lie that 90 percent of the heroin entering the U.S. crosses over from Mexico despite data showing that most of this drug enters through legal points of entry such as airports and seaports away from the Mexican border.
He alleged the “Southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs” and that it was necessary to “stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers.”
Trump said a “barrier is absolutely critical to national security” despite his own federal government data showing that total illegal crossings in 2017 were lower than in either 2016 or 2014, and far lower than its peak in the year 2000.
In her rebuttal speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the real problem is Trump’s “cruel and counter-productive policies” making the border ever more dangerous for vulnerable migrants, including young families.
She reminded Americans that on the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to reopen government and fund smart, effective border security solutions.
She said Trump rejected these bipartisan bills which would reopen government “over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall — a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for.”
Pelosi pointed out the women and children at the border are not a security threat but “are a humanitarian challenge — a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened.
She said Trump must stop holding the American people hostage; must stop manufacturing a crisis and must reopen the government.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) assailed Trump for using his speech “to appeal to fear, not facts. Division, not unity.” He also proposed a compromise out of the mess that is Trump’s government shutdown.
“There is an obvious solution: separate the shutdown from the arguments over border security. There is bipartisan legislation — supported by Democrats and Republicans — to reopen government while allowing debate over border security to continue.”
Schumer said both Democrats and Republicans “can reopen the government AND continue to work through disagreements about policy. We can secure our border without an expensive, ineffective wall. And we can welcome legal immigrants and refugees without compromising safety and security.
“The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a thirty-foot wall.”
The speech also offered no hope for a quick end to the partial government shutdown Trump created and took full credit for. The shutdown triggered by the row over funding for the border wall has left 800,000 federal employees either unpaid or working without pay. It is now on its 18th day with no immediate end in sight.
Trump, however, did not declare a national emergency as he threatened to in previous days. Doing so would have given him the power to authorize the wall project without congressional approval, and would have ignited an even deeper political crisis and court challenges from the Democrats.
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