WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump said on Monday that it depends on the Democrats whether there will be a partial government shutdown again this weekend due to lack of funds, as he began a visit to the border with Mexico to continue his campaign in favor of the construction of a wall there.
“It’s up to the Democrats,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if there will be another partial closure of the administration later this week.
On Feb. 15 the legislation expires that temporarily provided funds to the government at the end of January, which put an end to a 35-day shutdown of numerous government activities due to disagreement over the financing of the wall that Trump wants to build on the border with Mexico.
A bipartisan committee with members of the lower house and the Senate has been negotiating for two weeks to reach an agreement on immigration that can adhere to a new budget, thus avoiding a repeat of the partial paralysis.
In such political climate, Trump traveled to the border city of El Paso, Texas, on Monday to hold his first rally this year, while former Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke prepares an alternative rally in the city at the same time.
“We’re going to El Paso... We have a line that is very long already... And I understand our competition’s got a line, too, but it’s a tiny, little line,” the president said.
Trump lambasted a Democrats’ plan to limit the number of beds Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can keep in their detention centers.
“Now it turns out not only don’t they want to give us money for the wall, they don’t want to give us the space to detain murderers, criminals, drug dealers, human smugglers,” Trump said.
Trump’s government last month asked Congress for $4.2 billion to support the maintenance of 52,000 beds in its immigrant detention centers, a notable increase from the current 40,000 beds.
Democrats believe that, with that increase, ICE is also trying to detain undocumented immigrants with no criminal record, and they want to use the current negotiations to set a limit of 35,520 beds for the rest of this fiscal year, including a maximum of 16,500 for US detainees.
ICE acting deputy director Matt Albence warned that cutting funds for the detention centers of his department would be “extremely damaging to public safety.”
In a telephone press conference, Albence confirmed that the ICE detained some “20,000 or 22,000” undocumented people, who were captured inside the country, the majority with a criminal record, and claimed that a cut of funds would force his department to “release” some of them.