Trump heads to the border

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 11 Jan 2019

President Donald Trump yesterday headed to the US-Mexico border as part of his all-out offensive to build a wall, a day after he stormed out of negotiations when Democratic opponents refused to agree to fund the project in exchange for an end to a painful government shutdown.

"A total waste of time," Trump tweeted about his White House meeting with top Democratic congressional leaders. "I said bye-bye, nothing else works!"

Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, told journalists Trump "sort of slammed the table," then "got up and walked out."

"Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn't get his way," Schumer added.

A partial government shutdown drags on. It was the latest chapter in the drama over Trump's dogged drive for the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico.

On the border, aid workers had a message for Trump: things are not as he says they are, and the people crossing the border are not murderers and drug traffickers.

"The truth is that a great number of people entering our country, asking to come in to the country, are not criminals: they are families, children, mothers, who really are asking for protection," said Norma Pimentel, head of the Catholic Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.

In Washington, according to supporters of Trump at Wednesday's meeting, the president asked Democratic leaders whether they would agree to fund his US$5.7 billion (HK$44.4 billion) wall project in exchange for him ending a painful shutdown of government.

The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, "raised her hand and said no, not at all," said Kevin McCarthy, the senior Republican in the House, who was also present.

Democrats say the wall would have little impact on real border problems and that Trump's tough approach has instead created a humanitarian crisis among vulnerable, unthreatening migrants.

Earlier at the White House, Trump told journalists that if he cannot get his way, he could declare a national emergency - a measure that allows him to bypass Congress and take the wall funds he needs from the military.

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