Senior adviser says ‘We’re going to do whatever is necessary to build the border wall’
Guardian staff and agencies
A top aide to Donald Trump insisted on Sunday that the administration is prepared to shut down the government in order to get the funding it demands to build a long-promised wall on the US-Mexico border.
Democrats, in response, flatly refused to shift position in order to help avoid such a government freeze.
Stephen Miller, senior adviser to the White House and a key, controversial aide to the president seen as instrumental in forging a hardline immigration policy, said on Sunday: “We’re going to do whatever is necessary to build the border wall.”
He told the CBS political talk show Face the Nation on Sunday morning that such a barrier was necessary to prevent “this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration” – his characterization of migrants from Mexico, central and south America attempting to enter the United States without authorization, typically to escape poverty or seek shelter from violence in their country of origin, or both.
The Trump administration is attempting to obtain necessary support from Democrats in Congress for substantial federal funding to build the wall and must pass the measure as part of a wider budget by the end of Friday, or trigger a temporary shutdown of vital government business.
Asked on CBS if “whatever is necessary” included a government shutdown, Miller said it did.
“If it comes to it, absolutely,” he said.
The question of whether or not the United States remains a sovereign country, whether or not we can establish and enforce rules for entrance into our country.”
During the 2016 presidential race, Trump, then the Republican candidate, repeatedly promised that he would transform the patchy fencing on the long US southern border into a wall – and that, effectively, he could force the Mexican government to pay for it.
Neither those funds nor the wall have materialized since Trump won the White House and he has now turned to Congress to provide the necessary billions.
Last week, after a showdown in the Oval Office with Democratic House and Senate leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Trump said he would be “proud” to shut down the government over the $5bn he has demanded for the wall.
Asked about the matter on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Schumer said of the president: “He’s not going to get the wall in any form.”
He and Pelosi have pledged no more than $1.3bn in public funds, with the money going towards fencing upgrades and other border security measures only.
Miller retorted: “The Democrat party has a simple choice … to fight for America’s working class or to promote illegal immigration. You can’t do both.”
Also last week an LGBT activist group held a confetti-strewn dance protest outside the White House and Miller’s residence to protest harsh border enforcement and migrant detention, including deaths in US border patrol custody, recently including a transgender woman and a young child from Guatemala.