Trump highlights human trafficking as he calls for 'strong barrier' during visit to US-Mexico border
President Trump arrives in McAllen, Texas to meet with Border Patrol agents on immigration, border security
Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn accompany the president on his visit to the border; Casey Stegall reports.
President Trump landed in Texas on Thursday for his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border as he insisted he may declare a national emergency to fund his long-promised wall there.
Air Force One arrived at McAllen International Airport shortly before 1 p.m. local time. Later in the afternoon, the president was expected to meet with border patrol agents before receiving a briefing on border security at the Rio Grande.
Before leaving the White House for Texas, the president said he is still willing to declare a national emergency if Congress doesn’t approve funding for a barrier along the border.
"I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” Trump told reporters. “The lawyers have so advised me. I'm not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will.”
The National Emergencies Act grants the president broad authority to declare emergencies, which could clear a path for the White House to move ahead with building a wall.
The visit comes on the 20th day of the ongoing partial federal government shutdown affecting nearly 800,000 federal workers. Funding has lapsed for some parts of the government, as Congress has been unable to pass a spending bill. Trump is demanding $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall in the spending package, something Democrats are rejecting.
On Wednesday, Trump walked out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after Pelosi again rejected supporting new funding for a border wall.
On Tuesday, the president addressed the nation from the Oval Office about the situation at the border, with Trump declaring a “humanitarian and security crisis." But Democratic congressional leaders responded by saying Trump was working to “manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration."
How the two sides will bridge this difference – and how long they will resist a compromise – has been unclear. The mounting impact of the partial shutdown, including federal workers' paychecks and national parks services, is likely to increase pressure on Congress and the White House to forge a deal in the coming days.
Trump has told congressional leaders the standoff could last months, even years, as he demanded Washington take action to stem the flow of illegal immigrants, drugs and criminals crossing the border. The president tweeted Thursday that because of the shutdown, he is cancelling his planned trip this month to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.
Fox News' Gregg Re contributed to this report.