- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2019

President Trump said Monday that Democrats are now in control of whether there will be a government shutdown at the end of the week, saying their last-minute demands to detain fewer illegal immigrants are poisoning negotiations.

The president also announced his administration had begun building a “big, big” new section of border wall, as he pressed Congress for more money to keep construction going, and to sustain the ability of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain illegal immigrants.

Standing with sheriffs at the White House, Mr. Trump read out a list of crimes committed by illegal immigrants detained in recent years, and said Democrats’ demand for a limit to detention space would mean they would end up American streets.

“They don’t want to give us the space to detain murderers, criminals, drug dealers, human smugglers,” the president said.

He was asked if there would be a shutdown Friday, when current stopgap funding runs out.

“That’s up to the Democrats,” the president said.

Democrats’ late demand to limit the average number of people ICE can detain on any given day to 34,000 overall, and just 16,500 people from those arrested in the interior of the U.S., has upended the ongoing spending negotiations.

Democrats say they do want major felons to be detained, but don’t believe lower-level criminal illegal immigrants should be detained.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer called them taxpayers who should be allowed to be free while they await the outcome of their deportation cases.

“This is not a new issue,” Mr. Hoyer told Fox News.

He said cuts in detention beds are a fair trade for Mr. Trump getting additional wall money.

“When the president says we don’t have enough beds for criminals, we don’t think that’s the case at all,” Mr. Hoyer said.

Still, he did push back against those on the Democratic Party’s left wing who have called for abolishing ICE.

“It’s like the IRS. It’s an absolutely essential agency,” he said.

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