NC officials react to Trump's speech on immigration

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 1/9/19

President Donald Trump’s prime-time speech Tuesday night on border security generated responses from several officials representing Chatham County on the federal level.

During the address, …

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NC officials react to Trump's speech on immigration

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Posted

UPDATE: The story has been updated with sources for statistics cited by U.S. Rep. Mark Walker in his statement.

President Donald Trump’s prime-time speech Tuesday night on border security generated responses from several officials representing Chatham County on the federal level.

During the address, Trump said the United States is “out of space” to hold “illegal immigrants” and that “all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration” that “strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages.”

“Tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” Trump said. “This is a humanitarian crisis — a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.”

The speech came in the midst of a government shutdown during which Trump has blamed Democrats for the lack of a deal and Democratic leaders have stood firm on not allowing a 1,000-mile wall on the US-Mexico border, a key campaign promise from Trump’s 2016 run for the presidency.

Both U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C. released statements following the speech.

Tillis said the government shutdown has sent the message that compromise can “never” be reached between the two major political parties.

“President Trump has made clear that he will not sign a funding bill that contains inadequate border security funding,” said Tillis. “He’s called on both parties to work together in good faith and that’s what I’m committed to doing. We must be willing to compromise to end the gridlock and produce a positive outcome for the country. If both sides cast aside the most extreme voices on the far-left and far-right, I believe a solution is well within reach to re-open our government, secure our borders, and make badly-needed reforms to our nation’s broken immigration system.”

Walker is a longtime proponent of a border wall and increased border security, which he has been lobbying for on his social media pages in recent weeks. Walker pointed to numbers to express his desire for Trump’s proposal.

“The debate on securing our border cannot be measured in partisan jabs,” he said. “It has to be measured in the human toll caused by our porous borders – one in three migrant women are sexually assaulted, seven in ten migrants are victims of violence, and 20,000 migrant children were illegally smuggled just last month. America is exceptional enough to stop this humanitarian crisis, protect our border and be a beacon of hope for the world.”

Walker's office returned a Chatham News + Record requested for sources for the statistics. The nonprofit Doctors Without Borders reported in 2017 that 68 percent of migrants treated by Doctors Without Borders personnel "reported being victims of violence during their transit through Mexico" and 31 percent of women surveyed by the group "had been sexually assaulted during the journey."

Trump referenced the 20,000 number in his speech Tuesday night, but multiple media outlets fact-checking the speech have expressed doubt over that figure.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 25,172 family units, which are defined as individuals under 18 with a family member or legal guardian, were apprehended at the southwest border during November — statistics for December were not available. Fact-checkers at The Washington Post said there is no government statistic for children smuggled in by “bad actors.”

Jack Minor, Walker's communication director, said the 20,000 number was presented to House members on Tuesday in a briefing on border security from Kirstjen Nielsen, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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