WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s address from the Oval Office last night, during which the president attempted – and failed – to justify his closing the federal government:
“President Trump’s address to the nation last night was an exercise in fearmongering. By its end, only one thing was made clear: his petulant demand for a border wall is a policy in search of a crisis. The president is trying to manufacture an emergency to justify holding the United States government hostage over his wall. But that’s not how our system of government works.
“Little of what President Trump said was based in facts or reality. He insisted that a wall is necessary to stop illegal drugs from entering our country, but failed to acknowledge that the number-one way illegal drugs cross the U.S.-Mexico border is in passenger vehicles that pass through our Ports of Entry – with those crossing otherwise legally.
“He peddled fear again with his claim that thousands of terrorists are pouring over our southern border each day. Facts disagree: in the first half of FY ’18, Customs and Border Protection apprehended just 6 individuals at the U.S.-Mexico border whose names were on a terrorist watch list. The White House has offered no evidence to the contrary.
“President Trump likewise insisted that a wall is critical for our national security. The truth is, 85 percent of watch-listed individuals attempting to enter the United States do so by air.
“These are the actual facts of the matter, and like any real fact, they are supported by credible sources. I challenge the White House to provide sources suggesting otherwise.
“Bottom line: at no point in President Trump’s address did he answer why we can’t reopen the parts of the federal government that have nothing to do with our border. He did not explain why he is holding the State Department, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, the Commerce Department, the National Park Service, many others – and the millions of Americans they serve – hostage. He did not explain what those departments and agencies have to do with border security, or why shuttering the U.S. government is necessary to it.
“I am for strong borders and funding actual border security. Currently, only 18 percent of passenger and cargo vehicles crossing through our Ports of Entry are inspected, despite those vehicles being the primary means of transporting illicit drugs across the border. We can and must invest in the resources necessary to change that and increase the inspection rate. But wasting $5.7 billion on a physical wall is a 12th century solution to a 21st century problem.
“It’s time for President Trump to end the theatrics. It’s time for him to work with us on reopening the government now.”