Donald Trump addresses the nation

Donald Trump

Donald Trump addresses the nation

(According to the Toronto Star, the USA president had made almost 4,000 false claims as of December 5 for an average of 5.8 per day.) Recently, the White House has been trying to justify funding a wall on the notion that there is a new crisis at the southern border, when in fact the number of people trying to cross the border has been in decline for nearly two decades.

Addressing the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, Mr Trump argued for funding on security and humanitarian grounds as he sought to put pressure on newly empowered Democrats amid an extended partial Government shutdown.

In a televised rebuttal, Democratic leaders accused the president of holding the American people hostage.

Democrats have not requested a steel barrier.

The current closure of a quarter of federal agencies is the second-longest in history, leaving hundreds of thousands of government workers unpaid. Some say Trump's hardline policies are slowing processing for migrants, creating an overwhelming bottleneck at the border. Trump is asking for over $5 billion for the fence, despite he has repeatedly promised that the cost of building the wall would be taken care of by Mexico.

There have been multiple times when presidents have declared emergenices under the National Emergencies Act, although in recent years it was to impose sanctions on individuals or regimes.

However, Mr Trump correctly pointed out that Democrats had in the past supported a physical barrier.

The government has been partially shut down for 18 days, and although negotiations have been ongoing, President Trump has thus far failed to reach a compromise with House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, both sides deadlocked over Trump's requested $5 billion for a border wall between the USA and Mexico.

On Thursday he heads to the border.

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But the president added he wants to try to negotiate an end to the partial government shutdown that includes funding for the wall.

"If his past statements are an indication, (the speech) will be full of malice and misinformation", House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the senior Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said in a statement. With Trump coverage dominating the airwaves since the 2016 election, the president's offer was one the networks couldn't refuse. "Division, not unity", the NY senator added. But the New York Democrat says the "symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall". The president has been saying there's a "crisis" at the border practically since he first started campaigning for president.

Some Republicans voiced doubts about the tactic, with Senator John Boozman telling AFP there was "some controversy" over Trump's authority to declare an emergency. The president will be visiting the Southern Border tomorrow morning. On Thursday he travels to the border.

Democrats have already signaled there would be a court battle if the president tried the gambit.

What would an emergency declaration achieve?

But he did not mention that Tuesday night.

Such a dramatic escalation of the standoff might allow him to access military spending to fund his barrier, which remains un-built two years into his presidency. However, such a step would likely face an immediate legal challenges.

Current Democratic leaders also voted for border fencing in 2006 and 2013, a change of heart that the president has highlighted multiple times.

The number of illegal border crossings is down from 1.6 million in 2000 to fewer than 400,000 past year.

The White House suggested at the weekend that thousands of terrorists were caught attempting to cross the US-Mexico border, but in fact all but a handful were stopped at airports.

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