President Donald Trump called on Congress on Tuesday (Jan 8) to give him US$5.7 billion ($7.7 billion) this year to help build a wall on the USA border with Mexico but stopped short of declaring a national emergency to pay for the wall with military funds.
After weeks of lashing out at Democratic opponents, mostly via Twitter and impromptu press conferences, Trump deployed the presidency's biggest PR gun: a formal address to the nation on live television from the White House Oval Office.
But the president would be accused of usurping Congress's constitutional power of the purse, and the move would be bogged down in a quagmire of legal challenges.
Mr Trump is scheduled to visit the southwest border on Thursday (Jan 10) and it was not clear whether he still might choose to make the national emergency declaration.
The number of illegal border crossings is down from 1.6 million in 2000 to less than 400,000 previous year.
The president also said that 90% of heroin sold in the USA came from Mexico, though United States government figures make clear all but a small percentage is smuggled through legal points of entry.
In recent years, the border has seen many more Central American families and unaccompanied children turning up - sometimes in caravans of thousands of people - to seek asylum and the government does not have the facilities to take care of them.
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Democrats, meanwhile, have demanded equal time, so networks will also air a rebuttal by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats and Republicans agree on the need to secure borders. Such asylum-seekers often present themselves at official crossing points, something that would not change if a wall were built. Cory Booker of New Jersey called it an effort to "extort funds" for an 'unnecessary and nonsensical border wall'. However, Democrats have called it a humanitarian crisis, while the Trump administration has framed it as an issue of national security, according to the New York Times.
He will follow up with a rare trip to the Mexico border itself on Thursday.
Harrowing tales are starting to emerge from the fallout due to the shutdown, including airport security workers calling in sick because they have not been paid and therefore can not make it to work.
A National Park Service ranger looks out onto the city from Trump International Hotel's historic clock tower, which remains open and staffed by the National Park Service despite the partial government shutdown.
Even if Trump tried to declare an emergency to build the wall, Congress could try to claw the money back through rescissions or banning the use of funds for certain purposes.
Leaders of the nonpartisan National Governors Association made public a letter Tuesday sent to Trump and congressional leaders a day earlier, calling on them to reopen the government, saying "a federal government shutdown should not be a negotiating tactic as disagreements are resolved". We can reopen the government AND continue to work through disagreements about policy.