Trump's prime-time bid to end border wall impasse falls flat

National Security Adviser John Bolton has contradicted earlier comments by Donald Trump saying US troops will not leave northeastern Syria until IS militants are defeated. Pic AP

U.S. President Donald Trump blamed unauthorized immigrants for killing Americans, taking their jobs and flooding his country with drugs as he doubled down on demands that Congress hand over US$5.7-billion for a wall on the border with Mexico in a nationally televised address.

In an instant rebuttal, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the real problem was Trump's "cruel and counter-productive policies" that have made the border ever more risky for vulnerable migrants, including young families.

Following Trump's address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer are likely to deliver their own addresses on behalf of the opposition Democratic party.

On the 18th day of a partial government shutdown over the wall funding, Mr Trump called on newly empowered Democrats to meet with him, saying it was "immoral" for "politicians to do nothing". A lack of resources to process their refugee claims, along with a Trump administration policy of laying criminal charges against anyone crossing illegally, has led to long queues at border crossings and the separation of children from parents in detention facilities.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mrs Pelosi said the mood in the White House was "cold". The White House feels no political pressure from Mr Trump's base supporters, who see immigration as a top issue and a wall as a permanent solution to the problem, White House aides say. That's because the federal government has been partially shutdown for over two weeks.

They accused Trump of holding government workers hostage to get his wall and Schumer said that a way of the standoff would be to delink the wall and the shutdown by having a budget passed while continuing debate on the border barrier. He blamed illegal immigration for what he said was a scourge of drugs and violence in the USA and asked: "How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?"

Following the president's address on Tuesday, Smith fact-checked a number of the claims made by Trump, such as murder rates among undocumented migrants and drug flows, which did not match government statistics, Mediaite reported.

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Pressure will ramp up in the coming days as numerous 800,000 federal workers impacted miss out on a pay cheque for the first time since the shutdown begun.

She blamed Trump's "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!"

Negotiations on wall funding could proceed in the meantime, they said.

Not even Fox News was having Donald Trump's lies about border security following his prime time address on Tuesday night.

He appealed to Congress to end "this crisis" and for every American to "call Congress" and tell them to "secure our border". But critics say the security risks are overblown and the administration is at least partly to blame for the humanitarian situation. "The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country".

In fact, a study by the libertarian Cato Institute past year found that crime rates among immigrants in Texas - both legal and unauthorized - were lower than those among native-born Americans.

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