US President Donald Trump used his first-ever televised Oval Office address to call for an end to the “cycle of human suffering” he claims could be solved by the construction of his Mexican border wall.
Describing the current immigration situation in the US as a “humanitarian crisis of the heart and soul”, Trump again called for Congress to grant the $5.7 billion he’s requested to construct the steel barrier between Mexico and the USA.
The 45th President of the USA spoke directly to the nation as he described the “hurt” he believes illegal immigration has caused the American people, claiming that thousands of citizens have been “brutally killed by those who entered the country illegally”.
He said: “America proudly welcomes millions of lawful emigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation. But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration.”
Trump addressed the nation on Tuesday evening as the country entered its 20th day of a partial government shutdown, blaming the Democrats for the ongoing shutdown, saying they “will not fund border security”.
He described women and children making the journey from Central and South America to the US as the biggest victims of the current “broken system” and vowed to end “the cycle of human suffering”.
Trump also used a rather colourful analogy to suggest that his wall was more about protecting American citizens, than keeping out immigrants, saying: “Why do wealthy politicians build walls, fences and gates around their homes? They don’t build walls because they hate the people on the outside but because they love the people on the inside.”
The address came to a close with an impassioned plea from Trump, who said: “How much more American blood must be shed before Congress does its job?”
Leading Democrats Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi were quick to respond to Trump, delivering their own live speech in which they accused the president of “governing by temper tantrum” and told him to stop “holding the American people hostage”.
While Independent Senator Bernie Sanders also publicly hit out at Trump following his presidential address, branding him a “liar” and claiming his $5.7 billion figure is a gross under-calculation, suggesting it could in fact cost American taxpayers up to $70 billion in total.
“It gives me no pleasure to tell you what most of you already know,” he told the nation. “President Trump lies all the time. Regarding immigration and the wall, he continues to lie.”
Sanders also called on Trump to “separate the shut down from arguments over border security”.
It is no surprise that Trump’s address quickly began trending on social media and his comments triggered mixed reactions online, with one senator saying it was “the most presidential he had ever seen Trump act, while others called out the president for using the crisis as “political leverage”.
The opioid crisis has destroyed a generation in my community. @realDonaldTrump hasn’t brought us treatment beds or checked big pharma Or visited the grandparents trying to raise babies on social security. He is trying to use this crisis as political leverage. HOW DARE HE.
— Richard N. Ojeda, II (@VoteOjeda2020) January 9, 2019
One person wrote: “The only thing we learned tonight is that @realDonaldTrump lies as effortlessly and shamelessly on prompter as he does off…“
Another said: “The #TrumpSpeech tonight showed @realDonaldTrump is willing to go to any length to get his ineffective wall, even at the expense of American workers and families. This shutdown is ridiculous. We must reopen the government.”