Tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Every day, customs and border patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them, and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.
But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans.
Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs. Finally, as part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7bn for a physical barrier. At the request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier, rather than a concrete wall. The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only... because Democrats will not fund border security.
My administration is doing everything in our power to help those impacted by the situation. But the only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government.
Sadly much of what we heard from President Trump throughout this sense of shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice. The president has chosen fear. We want to start with the facts. The fact is on the very first day of this Congress, House Democrats passed Senate Republican legislation to reopen government and fund smart, effective border security solutions. But the president is rejecting these bipartisan bills, which would reopen government, over his obsession with forcing American taxpayers to waste billions of dollars on an expensive and ineffective wall, a wall he always promised Mexico would pay for.
The fact is President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety, and well-being of the American people and withhold the pay cheques of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation, many of them veterans. He promised to keep government shut down for months or years, no matter whom it hurts. That's just plain wrong.
Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes. This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.
My fellow Americans, there is no challenge so great that our nation cannot rise to meet it. We can reopen the government and continue to work through disagreements over policy. We can secure our border without an ineffective expensive wall, and we can welcome legal immigrants and refugees without compromising safety and security. The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.