Trump boxed in by his own wall

Donald Trump continues to battle Democrats over his planned wall, with neither side backing down.


Trump: determined to build the border wall
(Image credit: 2019 Pool)

President Trump delivered a "forceful and fact-challenged" televised plea to the nation on Tuesday night for his long-promised border wall, declaring a "growing humanitarian and security crisis" at the southern border and blaming Democrats for the partial government shutdown that "he helped instigate three weeks ago", say Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez in The Washington Post.

In the speech, Trump made no mention of terrorism a key if "largely bogus" argument advanced in favour of the wall but he made a number of other false claims. He said the wall would be paid for by the "great new trade deal we have made with Mexico"; a deal that has not been ratified by Congress, and which does not, in any case, necessarily translate into greater revenue for the federal government.

He also said 90% of the heroin sold in the US comes across the southern border, although nearly all of it is trafficked across legal border crossings. And he described the situation as a "crisis" even though the number of people apprehended peaked in 2000 and has been declining since.

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What crisis there is is of his own making, says The New York Times. Mass detentions are overwhelming the system, causing overcrowding and illness and leading to "haphazard" releases of detainees. Trump has also been "floating the possibility of stiff-arming Congress altogether" by declaring a national emergency, a move that would prompt a swift legal challenge if not a constitutional crisis.

The wall, which Trump pledged to help him win the presidency, has "boxed him" into a corner, says David Charter in The Times. For two years, he appeared to let the project drift; now he is "convinced that it is the issue that will get him re-elected in 2020". He also sees it as a "tangible legacy of his presidency". Very true, agrees The New York Times. "The substance of border security may not interest him much," but as a symbol it "sure does".

Emily Hohler

Emily has worked as a journalist for more than thirty years and was formerly Assistant Editor of MoneyWeek, which she helped launch in 2000. Prior to this, she was Deputy Features Editor of The Times and a Commissioning Editor for The Independent on Sunday and The Daily Telegraph. She has written for most of the national newspapers including The Times, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, The Evening Standard and The Daily Mail, She interviewed celebrities weekly for The Sunday Telegraph and wrote a regular column for The Evening Standard. As Political Editor of MoneyWeek, Emily has covered subjects from Brexit to the Gaza war.

Aside from her writing, Emily trained as Nutritional Therapist following her son's diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes in 2011 and now works as a practitioner for Nature Doc, offering one-to-one consultations and running workshops in Oxfordshire.