'There Is No Emergency': How 5 Mass. Reps Reacted To Trump's Speech On His Border Wall

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President Trump speaks from the Oval Office as he gives a prime-time address about border security Tuesday. (Carlos Barria/Pool Photo via AP)
President Trump speaks from the Oval Office as he gives a prime-time address about border security Tuesday. (Carlos Barria/Pool Photo via AP)

As NPR reports:

President Trump made his case to the American people Tuesday night for why a massive wall along the Mexican border is necessary, using his first Oval Office address to outline his conditions for ending the 18-day-and-counting partial government shutdown.

"This is a humanitarian crisis," the Republican said, speaking of conditions at the southern border. And Trump said that the government remains shut down "for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security."

Speaking with WBUR, several members of Massachusetts' all-Democratic congressional delegation sharply disagreed with the president.

U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, of the 5th district, rejected Trump's labeling of illegal immigration as a "national crisis."

"There is no emergency at our southern border," she said, "and what we are seeing President Trump do is go back to his campaign and use fear and division to try and get the taxpayers to fund the campaign slogan of 'build the wall' at the cost of $5 billion. And there is a real toll for federal workers as this shutdown drags on."

Trump also claimed in his address that the "southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs" and that it was necessary to "stop the criminal gangs, drug smugglers and human traffickers."

Boston Congressman Stephen Lynch also said he believes the president is standing his ground on a border wall in order to fulfill a campaign promise.

"It's not really about securing the border, as we need to do," the 8th district Democrat said. "But it is accepting his characterization of people who are trying to come into this country — the way he paints them broadly as criminals, and all about the drugs, and he gave the horrific examples. And that was his reasoning for shutting down the government and insisting on the wall."

New U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan says she's willing to discuss providing funding for Trump's proposed wall, but says the shutdown needs to end first.

"I want us to first reopen the government," the 3rd district congresswoman said. "I want us to then negotiate what border security looks like for the country. And I do believe in a negotiation everything should be on the table. When Democrats talk about border security, we want to have solutions to the problems we actually have."


By the end of this workweek, this would become the longest partial government shutdown in U.S. history and many federal workers would miss their first paychecks.

Congressman Jim McGovern, of the 2nd district, said he hopes bills to find the government will get passed before then.

"In the House we are taking up Senate-passed bills, Republican bills, and we are passing them one by one by one," he said. "I think the votes are there if everyone decides to do this — to not only pass these bills but to be able to override a [potential presidential] veto."

McGovern added: "The pressure continues to build and every day we hear about another Republican willing to join with us."

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, of the 6th district, said a wall is not the answer to solving the root problems around illegal immigration.

"We gotta understand why people are coming here in the first place and why so many of them are coming here illegally rather than legally," he said. "That's the problem we need to fix. Give me a 25-foot wall and I'll show you a 30-foot ladder. The wall is not going to fix this problem."

This segment aired on January 9, 2019.


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Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.


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Dan Guzman is senior producer for Morning Edition at WBUR.



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