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Saturday , August 24 2019

‘Military to build wall if Democrats refuse’

US arrests 32 at San Diego border demonstration

A Border Patrol agent (below), grabs the legs of a man during a protest near the border with Tijuana, Mexico, on Dec 10, in San Diego. US Border Patrol agents have handcuffed about a dozen people participating in a demonstration organized by a Quaker group at the US-Mexico border, calling for the end of the detention and deportation of immigrants and the militarization of the border. (AP)

WASHINGTON,Dec 11, (AP): President Donald Trump sought Tuesday to pressure Democratic congressional leaders into supporting his demand for billions of dollars to build his promised wall along the US-Mexico border, threatening to have the military build it “if Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country.”

Trump tweeted the threat hours before Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi were to meet with Trump at the White House in an effort to avert a possible partial government shutdown on Dec 21, when funding for some agencies is scheduled to expire. In a series of tweets Tuesday, Trump said immigration and border patrol agents and thousands of activeduty service members he sent to the border have done a “FANTASTIC” job. But he said “A Great Wall would be, however, a far easier & less expensive solution.” Trump said he looked forward to meeting with Schumer and Pelosi, but claimed they don’t want border security for “strictly political reasons.”

“If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!” Trump said. Schumer and Pelosi said Monday that Republicans have the power to keep the government open since they control Congress and the White House. “Our country cannot afford a Trump Shutdown,” they said in a statement, adding that Trump “knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement.” Republican congressional leaders have repeatedly said it’s up to Trump to cut a deal with Democrats, an acknowledgment of their inability to produce spending bills with Republican votes alone.

That gives Democrats some momentum heading into the closed-door talks, which also could veer into Trump’s request for emergency funding for deadly wildfires in California and a Republican-sponsored bill to extend expiring tax breaks and delay some health care taxes. Before lawmakers adjourn for the year they also may consider a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller and a plan to overhaul the system for handling sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill. By far, the biggest unresolved issue is the border wall. Trump wants the next funding package to include at least $5 billion for it, an idea Democrats have flatly rejected.

Support Pelosi and Schumer have urged Trump to support a bill that includes a half-dozen government funding bills largely agreed upon by lawmakers, along with a separate measure that funds the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Sept. 30.

The homeland bill includes about $1.3 billion for fencing and other security measures at the border. If Trump rejects that, Democrats will likely urge a continuing resolution that funds all the remaining appropriations bills at current levels through Sept. 30, an aide said. The aide was not authorized to discuss strategy by name and requested anonymity. Trump said Friday that Congress should provide all the money he wants for the wall and called illegal immigration a “threat to the well-being of every American community.” At an appearance in Kansas City, Missouri, Trump accused Democrats of playing a political game and said he ultimately would win.

US authorities arrested 32 people at a demonstration Monday that was organized by a Quaker group on the border with Mexico, authorities said. Demonstrators were calling for an end to detaining and deporting immigrants and showing support for migrants in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers. A photographer for The Associated Press saw about a dozen people being handcuffed after they were told by agents to back away from a wall that the Border Patrol calls “an enforcement zone.” The American Friends Service Committee, which organized the demonstration, said 30 people were stopped by agents in riot gear and taken into custody while they tried to move forward to offer a ceremonial blessing near the wall.

Border Patrol spokesman Eduardo Olmos said 31 people were arrested on suspicion of trespassing by the Federal Protective Service and one was arrested by the Border Patrol for assaulting an agent. More than 300 people, many the leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, participated in the demonstration at San Diego’s Border Field State Park, which borders Tijuana, Mexico. The rally held on a beach divided by the border wall was the second confrontation for Border Patrol agents since a caravan of more than 6,000 migrants, predominantly Hondurans, reached Tijuana last month.

A confrontation with rock-throwers from Mexico led to US agents firing tear-gas into Mexico on Nov 25 and a five-hour closure of the nation’s busiest border crossing. Thousands of migrants are living in crowded tent cities in Tijuana after undertaking a grueling journey from Central America to the U.S. border. Many face waiting weeks or months in Mexico while they apply for asylum. The US is processing up to about 100 claims a day at the San Diego crossing, which is creating a backlog.

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