US shutdown: Trump to make 'major announcement' on Mexico wall


Federal workers Lineup for free food

US President Donald Trump says he’ll make a”major statement” later on his Mexican boundary wall, a problem that has partially shut down government.

The shutdown, now in its fifth week, is the longest in US history, and it has left 800,000 federal employees unpaid.

Mr Trump insists on $5.7bn (#4.5bn) funding for the wall but opposition Democrats refuse to support it.

Correspondents say Mr Trump may provide a concession on so-called Dreamers, young illegal immigrants in the usa.

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Mr Trump insists the wall is needed to end a safety crisis on the southern boundary, while the Democrats call it a waste of taxpayers’ cash.

When is the statement and what would it include?

It will be in the White House on Saturday afternoon, though it has been put back an hour to 16:00 local time (21:00 GMT).

Mr Trump had a brief exchange with reporters on Saturday morning but gave little away, saying:”I think it’ll be a significant statement.”

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The BBC’s David Willis in Washington says Mr Trump might be poised to provide a concession on the Dreamers, young folks who entered the United States with their parents illegally.

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These youngsters are currently protected from deportation under a programme that lets them work but not get citizenship. Mr Trump has been attempting to rescind the programme.

Sources told US media Mr Trump may extend protection for Dreamers for three years and extend visas for Temporary Protection Status holders. Over 300,000 people from countries affected by war or disasters are allowed to live and work in the US under TPS, another system Mr Trump opposes.

Mr Trump will continue to need $5.7bn for the wall, the sources say.

They also say it is unlikely he’ll declare a national crisis over the wall.

Such a statement would free up funds, probably from defence department spending, but be hugely controversial and would almost certainly spark legal challenges.

So could this end the shutdown?

The Dreamers issue was a key one for Democrats but, our correspondent says, movement on that front alone is unlikely to bring an end to the shutdown, given the bitter opposition among Democrats to the wall project, which they have called”immoral”.

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There is certainly growing pressure to finish the shutdown and some politicians, including Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, have indicated a deal could be in the offing.

But the Democrats also have said they won’t negotiate until authorities is reopened, while there’s also no end to the private rancour.

On Saturday, Mr Trump said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was”under complete control of the radical left”. There are no discussions planned either.

The Democrats are themselves working on legislation to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on other border security issues, including hiring more immigration judges.

What’s the shutdown affecting unpaid workers?

Some of those 800,000 federal employees who were moving unpaid since 22 December are in increasingly dire straits.

More than 1,500 appeals have been set them up on crowdfunding site GoFundMe, seeking a financial lifeline to cover rent or feed and clothe their kids.

In desperation, the Department of Agriculture, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Aviation Administration have just remembered more than 50,000 workers, who have to work without pay.