President Trump will make his case to the American people Tuesday night to build a massive wall along the Mexican border, using his first Oval Office address to outline his conditions for ending the 18-day-and-counting partial government shutdown.
Democrats have remained in staunch opposition to any such contingencies, arguing their victories in the midterm elections and public polling have shown the country doesn't want a wall on the southern U.S. border. But Trump has said he won't sign any bill to reopen the government, about a quarter of which was shuttered on Dec. 22, unless Congress acquiesces to his request for $5.7 billion to build the wall — Trump's central campaign promise that received raucous applause at his rallies, albeit with the caveat that Mexico would pay for the barrier.
Trump is expected to outline his rationale for why the wall is needed, after he called the situation on the southern border a "Humanitarian and National Security crisis" in announcing his prime-time address. The president speaks to the nation at 9 p.m. ET in remarks all the major TV networks will be carrying live. After Trump's speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will also speak from the Capitol in response to the president in remarks that will also be carried live on many TV networks across the country.
The Trump administration has tried to establish a link between terrorism and the situation at the southern border, but it has often exaggerated the threat or simply used inaccurate or misleading statistics in order to do so. While there has been a spike in southern border crossings in the past few months — largely children and families fleeing violence in Central America — overall illegal crossings are lower than in either 2016 or 2014, and far lower than their peak around 2000.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also claimed last week that Customs and Border Protection picked up almost 4,000 suspected terrorists along the southern border, but NBC News found those stops have largely been made at airports. During the first half of fiscal year 2018, CBP stopped just six immigrants at ports of entry on the southern border who were on a federal terrorist watch list, NBC also found.