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Trump Visits Texas To Make His Case For A Wall On The U.S.-Mexico Border


President Trump traveled to Texas today to keep making his case for a barrier on the southern border. His trip comes with Republicans and Democrats no closer to an agreement to end the partial government shutdown now in its 20th day. And its effects are even being felt at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Thank you for calling the White House comment line.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Due to the lack of appropriations - funding from Congress, the federal government has shut down.

SHAPIRO: That's the message you get if you call the White House switchboard. With no end in sight, federal workers will officially miss their first paycheck on Friday. And Trump is warning Democrats to negotiate with him or he will try to build the barrier without Congress's approval. NPR's Ayesha Rascoe covers the White House and is here in the studio with us. Hi, Ayesha.


SHAPIRO: I'm tempted to ask what the state of play is on negotiations, but are there even negotiations happening at this point?

RASCOE: Well, there have been some negotiations, but things are really where they have been for the past few days or maybe even where they've been since the start of the shutdown. Basically, there seems to be no real movement toward some type of compromise right now. Vice President Mike Pence talked to reporters today. And he said at this point, the White House is not open to a big deal that would exchange some concessions on the so-called DREAMers, for money, for a wall or a barrier. And he also shot down the Democrats' plans to open parts of the government while lawmakers continue to debate how to handle border security. Pence said the White House will not agree to sign off on any bills in kind of a piecemeal fashion.

There was this little burst of activity with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. He was trying to put together a bipartisan compromise. And Graham was in some talks with leadership today, but those talks quickly fell apart. And now Graham is urging Trump to use his emergency powers to build the wall. And with that, the Senate is adjourned for the week. So barring something extraordinary happening, this shutdown is going to drag into next week and on Saturday will be the longest shutdown ever.

SHAPIRO: And President Trump took his message to the border today - to McAllen, Texas. What did he say there?

RASCOE: Well, he was really trying to drive home this idea that there is a crisis at the border and that a barrier is necessary to deal with it. He had a roundtable where he had family members, who had loved ones killed by someone in the country illegally, talking. And he really pushed back against the Democrats' arguments that this is a manufactured emergency.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What is manufactured is the use of the word manufactured. It's manufactured by them - every single of the negatives. But they're not winning because it's common sense.

RASCOE: So at this roundtable, Trump had these firearms and bags of what looked like drugs and money. They were on display in front of him. I guess this was seemingly to represent the contraband that is being seized at the border. But it's worth noting that out - that government figures show that most of the heroin that comes across the border into the U.S. actually comes through legal ports of entry and not through parts of the border without barriers.

SHAPIRO: Just in our last minute, what about the possibility of declaring a national emergency and building the wall that way without congressional support?

RASCOE: So we don't really have a timeline on when that decision will be made, but it's still on the table. And Trump is making clear that this is the path he intends to take if he can't cut a deal with Congress. It would cause this legal and political firestorm, but Trump seems to kind of view this - or may seem to view this as a way for him to agree to reopen the government. And then he could still tell his base that, we're fighting for this war. He actually said it would be surprising if he doesn't - if he doesn't declare a national emergency if there's no compromise.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Ayesha Rascoe. Thanks.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
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