Written by Michael Tackett and Julie Hirschfeld Davis
President Donald Trump traveled to the border Thursday to warn of crime and chaos on the frontier, as White House officials considered diverting emergency aid from storm- and fire-ravaged Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California to build a border barrier under an emergency declaration.
In a sign of growing unease about the partial government shutdown, some Senate Republicans came off the sidelines to hash out a deal that would reopen the government as Congress worked toward a broader agreement tying wall funds to protection for some immigrants in the country illegally and other migrants.
But before those negotiations could gain momentum, they collapsed; Vice President Mike Pence and other members of Trump’s team let it be known privately that the president would not back such a deal.
“It kind of fell apart,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. “I have never been more depressed about moving forward than I am right now. I just don’t see a pathway.”
In a brief statement not long after, Graham declared, “It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier.” He added, “I hope it works.”
The administration appeared to be looking into just that: using extraordinary emergency powers to get around Congress in funding the wall. The White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to examine emergency supplemental funds allocated last year after devastating hurricanes and wildfires that could instead be used to pay for the wall, according to congressional and Defense Department officials with knowledge of the matter, who insisted on anonymity to discuss the possibility.
As the shutdown neared Day 21, Trump, flanked by Border Patrol officers and a cache of drugs, cash and weapons seized by authorities, used a visit to a border facility in McAllen to blame the shutdown affecting large sections of the federal government on Democrats, charging that their opposition to a wall was allowing for brutal crime and violence.
“You’ll have crime in Iowa, you’ll have crime in New Hampshire, you’ll have crime in New York” without a wall, he warned.