United States: Shutdown Continues Over Border Wall Financing

Congressional or parliamentary leaders of America’s Republican and Democratic parties are expected to hold another round of talks with President Donald Trump at the White House on January 4, 2019 to try to resolve differences on this year’s federal spending. The 14-day deadlock has resulted in a shutdown of some federal services, costing the State 1 billion dollars (576.9 billion FCFA) a week.

President Trump’s refusal to approve the spending bill is hinged on his request for more than 5 billion US dollars (over 2,884.9 billion FCFA) to erect a 3,218-km-long border wall between the US and Mexico to block the influx of illegal immigrants. Democrats have rejected the request, instead offering 1.3 billion US dollars (750 billion FCFA) for border security measures. The amount is intended to be used for repairing and replacing fencing and existing portions of the wall. The White House has described the proposal as “a non-starter.”

Hours after meeting Republican and Democratic congressional leaders on January 2, 2019 at the White House for a briefing on border security, which by all accounts, made no progress, Trump tweeted, “Let’s get it done!” He added that he remained “ready and willing” to work with Democrats to pass a government spending bill while refusing to budge on funding for his long-promised border wall.

After the briefing, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, warned that it could take “weeks” to break the stalemate, saying the meeting with Trump did not produce “any particular progress.” “We are hopeful that somehow in the coming days or weeks we will be able to reach an agreement,” he added.

The partial government shutdown began on December 22, 2018 after Trump refused to sign a budget deal that did not include financing for his long-promised and stalled southern border wall. President Donald Trump says the southern border is “like a sieve,” and laments how US authorities fired tear gas into Mexico during the first hours of 2019 to repel about 150 migrants trying to breach the border fence in Tijuana.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, in 2000, about 1.6 million people were apprehended while trying to cross the border illegally into the US. In financial year 2017, there were only about 310,000 of such cases.

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