President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to sign executive order promoting artificial intelligence Trump’s new Syria timetable raises concern among key anti-ISIS allies Trump officials considering Mar-a-Lago for next meeting with China’s Xi: report MORE on Monday blasted Democrats who want to reduce the number of detention beds in border security talks, accusing them of wanting to allow immigrants who have committed crimes to roam freely in the U.S.
“These are people who kidnap people,” Trump said while meeting with a group of sheriffs at the White House. “The Democrats want them to come into our society. I don’t think so.”
The president spoke before leaving for a campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, where he plans to press his case for Congress to fund his long-desired wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We need a wall,” Trump said. “And all of the other things are nice to have, but without a wall it’s not going to work. We can have technology. We can have beautiful drones flying all over the place. But it doesn’t work without the wall.”
Trump is reinserting himself into the debate at a pivotal time for bipartisan talks on Capitol Hill to avoid another government shutdown. Lawmakers have until Friday to complete an agreement to fund roughly a quarter of the federal government.
Asked if there would be a second shutdown, Trump responded: “That’s up to the Democrats.”
The president has long demanded $5.7 billion in wall funding but Democrats have continuously rejected that request. Trump eventually relented and reopened the government on Jan. 25 after triggering a 35-day shutdown over wall money.
Trump also lashed out on Monday over Democrats’ insistence that the spending package includes a reduction in the number of detention beds for immigrants caught entering the U.S. illegally, calling them “Crazy!” for their demands.
“The Democrats do not want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens! This is a brand new demand. Crazy!” Trump tweeted.
The Democrats do not want us to detain, or send back, criminal aliens! This is a brand new demand. Crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2019
Democrats have pushed back against Trump’s criticism that the reduction would leave the country less safe, arguing that alternatives to detention are more effective and that fewer beds would force the administration to prioritize detaining violent offenders.
But Trump claimed the change would force authorities to release thousands of people convicted of assault, drug trafficking and human smuggling.
“The Democrats want them to go into our country. That’s why they don’t want to give us what they call the beds. It’s much more complicated than beds,” he said.