President Donald Trump rolled out a new slogan for his proposed southern border wall on Wednesday, as a historically long partial government shutdown triggered by his demands for barrier funds entered its 33rd day.
The former businessman attempted to rebrand the politically polarizing barrier a day before the Senate will hold a procedural vote on his proposal for $5.7 billion in border wall funding and temporary protections for undocumented migrants protected by the Barack Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump used a pair of Wednesday morning tweets to roll out this slogan: “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!”
But he also offered an explanation for the new moniker and signaled he intends to employ it during his expected re-election campaign.
“This is the new theme, for two years until the Wall is finished (under construction now), of the Republican Party. Use it and pray!” he wrote, again not offering any data to support his years-old claim that undocumented migrants here illegally automatically spawn higher crime rates.
BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL! This is the new theme, for two years until the Wall is finished (under construction now), of the Republican Party. Use it and pray!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2019
BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2019
Democratic lawmakers and immigration experts have pushed back against the president’s contention his wall is being built. They say previously existing fencing has been repaired in some places, but no new walling or fencing has been constructed.
Not a solution?
Multiple polls show a majority of Americans do not view a border barrier as a solution to the situation at the U.S.-Mexico boundary, which Trump and other senior administration officials have started calling a security and humanitarian “crisis.”
For instance, a recent Quinnipiac University survey found that 43 percent of those polled support building a wall, while 55 percent do not.
But it remains wildly popular with Trump’s conservative base: 88 percent of GOP voters polled support it. But 92 percent of Democrats oppose a wall, and 59 percent of independents oppose it.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday morning that only Trump is trying to end the partial shutdown, charging Democrats with doing nothing to end the crisis. She also declined to say whether the president would sign a “clean” stopgap measure to re-open shuttered federal agencies if it gets to his desk.
Watch: ‘I’m not sure what’s going on, but I object’: Confusion on House floor Thursday during attempted shutdown-ending vote
“The president is the only one doing anything to help the people that all the Democrats claim they actually care about. But, yet, they’ve done nothing to help them,” Sanders told reporters outside the West Wing.
“Certainly,” she said when asked if Trump has seen television footage of furloughed federal employees at food banks. “And nobody wants to see that happen and that’s why the president put forward a proposal on Saturday.”
Sanders charged Democrats with doing “nothing” to end the partial shutdown or to address the administration’s claims of a border “crisis.”
Trump has telephoned Democratic lawmakers in recent days, trying to get their support for a package he rolled out Saturday that would provide temporary protections to “Dreamers” and provide $5.7 billion in border wall funds.
“And we’re going to continue to do that,” Sanders said Wednesday morning. Asked what likely happens after, as expected, government funding measures set for votes in the Senate on Thursday fail, the chief White House spokeswoman responded: “I think that’s a question you should ask Democrats. Why aren’t they supporting a plan that actually addresses the problem and supporting a plan that actually does things that they claim that they want?”
“There’s nothing in there that Democrats have not supported in the past, and that Democrats haven’t said they want to see happen,” she said. “So the idea that they’re playing political games with federal workers, the idea that they’re playing political games with the crisis at the border, that’s a question you’ll have to ask Democrats.”
The Democratic view
Democratic lawmakers, however, say the president must agree to sign legislation that would re-open shuttered federal agencies before they will even return to the negotiating table. And they immediately rejected his Saturday proposal.
“The president said his proposal was a reasonable compromise. In fact, it is neither reasonable nor a compromise,”” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday. “There were no serious negotiations with any Democrat about what went into the proposal. That’s because the proposal was never intended to pass. It’s only a thinly-veiled attempt by the president to save face.”
The New York Democrat also pushed senators to support a stopgap funding bill on Thursday that would temporarily open the closed agencies — and ensure furloughed workers get paid.
“It would renew all of the portions of the government until Feb. 8. Open them briefly. But open them it will, allowing workers to get paid, to get their back pay,” he said. “And it will allow us to then debate – without hostage-taking, without temper tantrums, without anything – how we can best do border security, get that done hopefully by Feb. 8, and keep the government open.”