President Donald Trump on Monday re-emphasized his willingness to shut down the government over his immigration, national security and border wall demands. But he was noncommittal when pressed on what specific issues would trigger him shutting down the government.
“As far as the border is concerned, if we don’t get border security, after many, many years of talk within the United States, I would have no problem doing a shutdown,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. That echoed a tweet he sent Sunday:
I would be willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018
He added later, referring to a slew of policy priorities: “I would certainly be willing to close it down to get it done.”
But, pressed for specifics on his demands, he failed to offer any.
It began with a question from the Daily Caller’s Saagar Enjeti: “To follow up on what you were saying about the shutdown,” Enjeti said, “are you saying that you would be willing to shut the government down in September if it does not fully fund $25 billion worth of your border wall, and also deliver all of the immigration priorities that you listed in your tweet? Or are you leaving some room for negotiation there?”
“I’ll always leave room for negotiation,” Trump answered. Later, asked if Congress approving $25 billion for a border wall was a “red line,” Trump said he had no such red line.
Instead, he simply listed his standard set of preferred policies — including ending what he calls “chain migration,” the policies that can ease migration for the family members of individuals lawfully present in the United States; ending the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program; ending “these horrible catch and release principles,” otherwise known as releasing immigrants and asylum-seekers from detention as they await court dates; and funding a border wall.
He also repeated his attacks on immigration law itself, incorrectly asserting that “they want us to hire thousands of judges.”
No one in Congress or his administration is calling for such a large number of immigration judges to be added to the system, though politicians and advocates of many different political stripes have said that adding some immigration judges will ease the the lengthy backlog of current cases.