President Donald Trump is set to address the nation from the Oval Office — his first Oval Office address to the nation. Trump’s wall proposed along the Southwestern border is likely to be the focus.
The address comes on the 18th day of the partial government shutdown over Congress’ unwillingness to fund a wall along the Southwestern border. This wall, and the alleged crisis on the border, are expected to be the topics of the Oval Office address.
The only way to stop drugs, gangs, human trafficking, criminal elements and much else from coming into our Country is with a Wall or Barrier. Drones and all of the rest are wonderful and lots of fun, but it is only a good old fashioned Wall that works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
Trump has repeatedly said that only a wall can provide security, and is likely to make that claim again in his primetime address. But every single member of Congress representing the communities along the border disagrees.
“It’s a 4th-century solution to a 21st century problem,” said Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-Texas). “When people talk about violence streaming across the border, it’s just nonsense.”
Gonzalez doesn’t oppose border security measures; far from it. He has proposed to the President a “virtual wall,” comprised of high-tech approaches to protecting the border. He called the wall an expensive and ineffective project.
The eight Representatives span the ideological spectrum, including a Republican; Will Hurd (R-Texas). These men and women represent the 2,000 mile long stretch of land that comprises the U.S.-Mexican border. And each one of them opposes the wall.
Hurd, a former CIA operative, also proposed a high-tech border solution he called a “smart border wall.” Both Hurd and Gonzalez’s proposals aren’t just higher tech than Trump’s wall, but cheaper. Hurd’s version of border security clocks in at just $1 billion, compared to the $25 billion that a Fox News op-ed suggested Trump’s wall would ultimately cost.
“This is a terrible, terrible mistake that Trump is making,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona). “I think he is wrong politically, and in terms of security, absolutely wrong.”
At the very least, he is misleading.
Trump’s claims of a crisis at the border are a muddle of misapplied statistics and misunderstood messages, as CNN explained. Notably, of the nearly 4,000 people on the terrorist watchlist that attempted to enter the United States — a statistic Trump uses to advocate for the wall — most were apprehended at airports. A mere twelve were encountered attempting to cross the Southern border.
Moreover, illegal entry into the United States across the Southwestern border accounted for 303,916 apprehensions in 2017, a 40-year low.
Even so, Trump has been floating declaring a national emergency to get funding for the wall without Congressional approval. He is not expected to make that declaration during his Oval Office address, but only to make the case that such an emergency exists in order to pressure Congress.
So far, though, the representatives actually on the border aren’t convinced. And with Congress unlikely to cave on Trump’s wall, the shutdown is likely to continue.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.