On Friday, officials in Puerto Rico called that “unacceptable” and said the island is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that hit more than a year ago and caused more than $100 billion in damage
Gov. Ricardo Rossello said the wall should not be funded “on the pain and suffering” of U.S. citizens who have faced tragedy after a natural disaster.
“To use this now as a political football is not what U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico deserve,” said Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico’s representative to Congress. She said the island still has not received $2.5 billion worth of funds. “I vehemently reject anyone playing with our pain and hope.”
It was not clear what a compromise might entail, and there were no indications that one was in the offing. Trump says he won’t reopen the government without money for the wall. Democrats say they favor measures to bolster border security but oppose the long, impregnable barrier that Trump envisions.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said at one point that he didn’t “see a path in Congress” to end the shutdown, then stated later that enough was enough: “It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier.”
Visiting a border patrol station in McAllen, Trump viewed tables piled with weapons and narcotics. Like nearly all drugs trafficked across the border, they were intercepted by agents at official ports of entry, he was told, and not in the remote areas where he wants to extend tall barriers.
Still, he declared: “A wall works. … Nothing like a wall.”
He argued that the U.S. can’t solve the problem without a “very substantial barrier” along the border, but offered exaggerations about the effectiveness of border walls and current apprehensions of those crossing illegally.
Sitting among border patrol officers, state and local officials and military representatives, Trump insisted he was “winning” the shutdown fight and criticized Democrats for asserting he was manufacturing a sense of crisis in order to declare an emergency. “What is manufactured is the use of the word ‘manufactured,’” Trump said.
As he arrived in Texas, several hundred protesters near the airport in McAllen chanted and waved signs opposing a wall. Across the street, a smaller group chanted back: “Build that wall!”
In Washington, federal workers denounced Trump at a rally with congressional Democrats, demanding he reopen the government so they can get back to work.
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the president of engaging in political games to fire up his most loyal supporters, suggesting that a heated meeting Wednesday with legislators at the White House had been “a setup” so that Trump could walk out of it.
In an ominous sign for those seeking a swift end to the showdown, Trump announced he was canceling his trip to Davos, Switzerland, scheduled for later this month, citing Democrats’ “intransigence” on border security. He was to leave Jan. 21 to attend the World Economic Forum.
The partial shutdown would set a record early Saturday, stretching beyond the 21-day closure that ended Jan 6, 1996, during President Bill Clinton’s administration.
Associated Press writers Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Alan Fram, Deb Riechmann and Zeke Miller in Washington, Nomaan Merchant in McAllen, Texas, and Danica Coto in San Juan contributed to this report.