U.S. President Donald Trump contended Sunday that the damage from the country's "badly broken border" with Mexico is "far greater" than the effects of the longest-ever partial government shutdown, now in its 23rd day.
"The building of the Wall on the Southern Border will bring down the crime rate throughout the entire Country!" Trump claimed on Twitter.
About 800,000 federal workers missed their first paychecks on Friday in the closures that have shuttered about a quarter of U.S. government operations.
The dispute centers on Trump’s demand for more than $5 billion to build a barrier along the 3,200-kilometer border with Mexico to thwart illegal immigration.
There was no movement toward a settlement, with Congress not meeting again till Monday.
Watch related video by VOA's Michael Bowman:
“I’m in the White House, waiting,” Trump said. “The Democrats are everywhere but Washington as people await their pay. They are having fun and not even talking!”
Trump was ridiculing about 30 opposition Democratic lawmakers who flew to the sun-drenched Caribbean island territory of Puerto Rico for a charity performance of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.”
Trump most recently has blamed Democrats for the government shutdown, but before it started Dec. 22, he said he said he would be “proud” to “own” it.
Numerous government services have been curtailed, while some museums and parks have been closed during the shutdown. The 800,000 federal civil servants who went without normal pay last week have been furloughed or ordered to work without pay, although they will be paid retroactively when the stalemate over Trump’s border wall plan is resolved.
Trump was asked late Saturday by Fox News talk show host Jeanine Pirro why he has not declared a national emergency to build the wall without congressional approval as he signaled last week he was ready to do. But Trump said he wants to give Congress a chance to negotiate a deal.
“I want to give them a chance to see if they can act responsibly,” Trump said.
Trump walked out of a White House meeting last week with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, when they refused to approve a border wall, even if he reopened the government and negotiated over border security for the next 30 days. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in new border security funding, but none specifically for a wall.
Trump contended, “I’m ready, willing and able to get a deal done…. This country wants to have protection at the border. Many of our crimes, much — MS-13 comes through the border, drugs, a big proportion of the drugs from, you know, that we have from this country — in this country come through the border.”
New polls on wall, shutdown
Two new polls, by The Washington Post and ABC News, along with one from CNN, showed American voters blame Trump and Republicans more than Democrats for the partial government shutdown and oppose construction of the wall.
The Post-ABC poll said a slight majority (54 percent) opposes construction of the wall, with 42 percent favoring it. CNN’s poll said the split against was 56-39.
CNN said the public generally blames Trump for the shutdown, with 55 percent saying that he is more responsible to 32 percent for Democrats, with 9 percent saying both are responsible. The Post-ABC poll pegged the blame on Trump and Republicans at 53 percent to 29 percent on Democrats.