Trump threatens US government shutdown over immigration

US President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats refuse to back major changes to immigration laws his administration wants.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats refuse to back changes to immigration law.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats refuse to back changes to immigration law.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump said on Sunday (July 29) he would allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats do not fund his border wall and back immigration law changes, betting that maintaining a hard line will work in Republicans’ favour in November congressional elections. 

However, a disruption in federal government operations could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans, who control Congress, for the interruption in services. 

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!” Trump said on Twitter. 

Americans are divided along party lines on immigration, and 81 per cent of Republicans approved Trump’s handling of the issue, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released this month. 

The Republican president has threatened a shutdown several times since taking office in 2017 in a bid to get immigration priorities in congressional spending bills, especially funding for a wall along the southern 
US border. 

Trump has asked for US$25 billion (S$34 billion) to build the wall. 

“I don’t think it would be helpful, so let’s try to avoid it,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on CBS’ Face the Nation. 

Congress must agree on a spending measure to fund the government by a Sept 30 deadline.  Although Republicans control both the US Senate and House of Representatives, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party have impeded a speedy legislative fix. 

Standoffs over spending levels and immigration led to a three-day government shutdown, mostly over a weekend, in January and an hours-long shutdown in February. 

The House in June rejected an immigration bill favored by conservative Republicans. 

The Republican president has made tougher immigration laws a centerpiece of his administration, from the first ill-fated travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations to the current battle raging over the separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border. 

A federal judge on Friday urged the US government to focus on finding deported immigrant parents whose children remain in the United States.