Trump's desperate plea to America over wall
DONALD Trump has slammed the Democrats over the "cycle of human suffering" at the US-Mexico border.
In a prime-time address to the nation from the Oval Office, the President said the US has run "out of space" to hold the immigrants.
"America proudly welcomes millions of lawful emigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation," he said. "But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration." He said it strains public resources, drives down jobs and wages, and serves as a "pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs".
He described it as a "humanitarian crisis... of the heart and soul", noting that 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the US last month. "This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end."
Mr Trump noted his administration has presented Congress with a "detailed proposal" to "secure the border and stop criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers".
He has also issued an urgent request for humanitarian assistance and medical support.
Mr Trump reiterated that law enforcement professionals have requested $US5.7 billion for a "physical barrier" to stop immigration across the border, claiming the wall would be paid for through the incoming USMCA trade deal with Mexico.
Mr Trump's address to the nation comes as the US enters its 20th day of a partial government shutdown over the border.
The President blamed the Democrats for the shutdown, saying: "The federal government remains shut down for one reason, and one reason only. Because Democrats will not fund border security."
"Some have suggested a barrier is immoral," he went on. "But then why do politicians build walls, fences and gates around their homes? They don't do it because they hate the people on the outside - they do it because they love the people on the inside."
Referencing a series of murders at the hands of "illegal aliens", he said: "How much more American blood must we shared before Congress does its job?"
"This is a choice between right and wrong," he went on. "Justice and injustice. This is about whether we fulfil our sacred duty to the American citizens we serve. When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect our country. And that is what I will always do. So help me God. Thank you, and goodnight."
The President is now expected to head to the southern border to draw even more attention to the scene he claims needs a radical solution.
KELLYANNE CONWAY CLASHES WITH REPORTER
One of Donald Trump's most high-profile staffers has clashed with a notorious reporter just hours ahead of the President's much-anticipated prime-time address to the nation.
Counsellor to the President Kellyanne Conway has embarrassed CNN reporter Jim Acosta, slamming him as a "smartass" after he asked whether Mr Trump would tell the truth in his address.
CNN’s Jim Acosta: “Kellyanne, can you promise the president will tell the truth tonight?”— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) 8 January 2019
Conway: “Yes, Jim. Do you promise that you will? ... this is why I am one of the only people around here who even gives you the time of day…because you’re such a smartass most of the time” pic.twitter.com/8fZ1iycl9R
"Yes, Jim," Ms Conway shot back, "Can you promise that you will? The whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Am I allowed to mention 'God' to you?"
Acosta, who known for making interruptions when Mr Trump and members of his administration are made available to the press, told Ms Conway he didn't have an "alternative facts" problem like she did.
"Make sure that goes viral. This is why I'm one of the only people around here who gives you the time of day," Ms Conway responded.
"You're such a smartass most of the time and I know you want this to go viral."
She then told the reporter that a lot of his peers didn't like him and mocked CNN "for all the corrections" it needed to issue.
"I was on your network 25 or 26 times in 2018. I'm one of the last people here who even bothered to go on, and the disrespect you show to me personally, I'll look past it," she added.
Last year Acosta had his White House press pass revoked following a tumultuous press conference where the reporter pressed Mr Trump to answer a question and refused to give up the microphone to a female aide.
The President branded Acosta "a rude, terrible person" and his White House reporting privileges were revoked.
Acosta's press pass was restored on November 19 after CNN argued that keeping him out of the White House violated the network and Acosta's First and Fifth Amendment rights.
After Mr Trump's address, which will be broadcast across all major networks, his Democrat rivals will give a televised rebuttal immediately afterwards.
The President is expected to tell the nation there is a "humanitarian and security crisis" at the Mexican border in his first TV broadcast from the Oval Office, scheduled for 9pm (1pm AEDST).
He was even considering declaring a national emergency over his demand that $US5.7 billion ($A8 billion) for a border wall be included in funding bills that would allow the US government to reopen after 18 days of shutdown.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi and senate minority leader Chuck Schumer will appear directly after his eight-minute address to respond to what they said was likely to be a speech filled with "malice and misinformation".
The party, which now has the majority in the House of Representatives, is unwilling to provide more than $US1.3 billion ($A1.8 billion) in border security funding, including money for a fence rather than a wall.
The partial government shutdown is starting to be felt among Americans, with 800,000 federal workers - including "anxious and angry" members of the Secret Service - facing the reality that their next scheduled pay cheques won't be issued.
Julie Burr, 49, said she went into "panic mode" after she was placed on unpaid leave from her job as a Transport Department administrative assistant, telling news.com.au she was "seriously considering" selling off her possessions.
Until either Trump or the Democrats budge, the most vulnerable in society are at risk, with food stamps and federal housing about to be affected.
National parks popular with tourists have closed following health and hygiene concerns as rubbish piled up and toilets overflowed without staff. The Department of Agriculture's Animal Care office has closed its hotline for reporting abuse.
Air travel has been affected as security officers and safety inspectors stay off work. Long queues formed at airports over the weekend and the Air Line Pilots Association International warned the shutdown was "adversely affecting the safety, security and efficiency of our national airspace system."
The economy is set to take a battering, with individuals and businesses struggling to function with nine of 15 government departments closed as well as several agencies.
Farmers already struggling cannot receive subsidies as the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency is shut. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the shutdown "could wreak havoc on US agriculture, and the rural economy, as farmers wait on subsidy payments, loans and data they need now to make plans for the spring."
Manufacturers also cannot plan as they have no idea how much materials will cost this year because the Commerce Department is not processing requests for exemptions from metal tariffs.
Craft brewers cannot get approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for new beer labels.
Up to 39,000 federally backed mortgage applications may have been delayed because of reduced agency staffing, according to real estate marketplace Zillow.
Mr Trump said he could relate to the unpaid workers struggling to make ends meet, but the billionaire businessman's claim drew derision from many ordinary Americans.
IS THERE A BORDER CRISIS?
The President and White House aides have been repeatedly emphasising the idea there is an immigration crisis on the US-Mexico border, and that a border wall is the solution. This is likely to be a major theme of Mr Trump's speech from the Oval Office - one of a president's greatest political weapons.
He will then head to the southern border on Thursday, set to be the 20th day of government shutdown, to draw even more attention to the scene he claims needs a radical solution.
Both sides agree there is a problem at the border.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen cited administration figures showing 161,000 family units crossed the border in 2018, a 50 per cent increase from the year before. She also said 60,000 unaccompanied children crossed the border last year, a 25 per cent increase.
However, the Washington Post described a "bona fide emergency" as desperate migrants wait weeks and even months for authorities to process their claims.
The closure of immigration courts due to the shutdown has made matters even worse.
Border agents are overwhelmed with arrests along the border exceeding 2000 a day. Many migrants are turning to people smugglers who are depositing rural South American families in remote areas. Humanitarian care is a growing issue.
The argument is over the solution.
All four living former presidents have said they do not support Mr Trump's border wall idea.
Many Republicans are also uncomfortable with the shutdown over border wall funding.
Several dozen GOP politicians in the House of Representatives may cross the room this week to vote for Democratic bills to reopen shuttered parts of the government, according to Politico.
"We need to reopen the government and then have a serious discussion about border security," Democrat and chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee Nita Lowey told New York Public Radio.
"Isolate the (border wall) issue, take a month to discuss it, but don't hold up all the essential services - like the Agriculture Department, Interior, parks, housing, transportation - all the other parts of the government.
"The President is really causing great hardship to the average person in this country."