President Trump on Friday told a national law enforcement conference that Democrats are “playing games” with funding for border security, amid gridlock on Capitol Hill over his call for a border wall.
“Congress must fully fund border security. ... We have to get this done, but they’re playing games, they’re playing political games,” he said at the Missouri conference. “I actually think the politics of what they're doing is very bad for them. But we’re going to very soon find out.”
Trump put pressure on Democrats hours after signing a stopgap spending bill to fund the federal government for two more weeks, averting a shutdown this weekend. The measure gives lawmakers a short window to work out their differences, which have centered on the debate over border wall funding.
While Trump used his speech at the conference, Project Safe Neighborhoods, to tout the administration’s increase in funding for crime-fighting strategies, he also spent a significant part of the speech talking about illegal immigration. He justified the cost of the wall, which has been estimated at $25 billion, by saying that at least 300 Americans are killed by heroin coming across the border a week. He said that illegal heroin cost the country $238 billion in 2016 alone.
“And we’re talking about a wall for $20 billion, $15 billion, I could even do it cheaper if I have to,” he said. “You’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars and you’re talking about a fraction -- you’d make it up in a month, a month, by having a proper wall.”
The new deadline to reach a budget deal is Dec. 21. Trump has called for $5 billion for funding for the wall, but Democrats have said they won’t go above $1.3 billion.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said that she also won’t accept a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in exchange for border wall funding and said that the wall is “immoral, ineffective and expensive.”
Trump has made much of the threat of illegal immigration in recent months, particularly from caravans of migrants moving from Honduras and Guatemala.
“When you see these caravans of thousands and thousands of people, they like to minimize it on the fake news, but you have tremendous amounts of people coming up and it’s incredible,” he said Friday.
During the speech, during which he incorrectly said he was in St. Louis rather than Kansas City, he responded to calls by some Democrats to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, by again dismissing the idea out of hand:
“We’re not getting rid of ICE, they’re heroes,” he said to applause.
Fox News’ Doug McKelway and The Associated Press contributed to this report.