8 Jan 2019

Trump to visit Mexico border

8:09 am on 8 January 2019

US President Donald Trump plans to visit the US southern border on Thursday, leaving Washington for the first time since partial federal shutdown began 16 days ago.

US President Donald Trump speaks as he arrives at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2019, after meetings at Camp David.

US President Donald Trump speaks to media at the White House after meetings with Democrats at Camp David failed to end a government shutdown. Photo: AFP / Jim Watson

The White House did not provide details of Mr Trump's trip, but the planned visit will likely highlight security concerns pushed by the administration as justification for building a wall along the US border with Mexico.

"President @realDonaldTrump will travel to the Southern border on Thursday to meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis," White House spokesman Sarah Sanders tweeted on Monday.

She said details would be announced soon.

Mr Trump hit an impasse with lawmakers last month over his demand that a bill to keep the federal government operational include money to help build the wall, which he promised in his election campaign to build with funding from the country's southern neighbour.

He skipped a planned trip to Florida to stay in the US capital during the Christmas and New Year holiday after large chunks of the federal government were shuttered on 22 December. About 800,000 government workers have been either furloughed or working without pay during the shutdown.

Mr Trump exhorted Democrats in Congress to "come back from vacation" and approve funding for his wall. Democrats returned to Washington in the new year, taking control of the US House of Representatives, and passed legislation to reopen all closed government agencies but did not include wall funding.

Donald Trump argues about border security with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office on December 11, 2018 in Washington, DC.

US President Donald Trump arguing about border security with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office in December. Photo: AFP / Getty Images

This week, they will pass a series of bills to reopen federal agencies after weekend talks between the administration and Democrat negotiators failed to end a stalemate.

On Sunday, Mr Trump pledged not to bend in his demand for $5.6 billion to pay for the wall but said the barrier could be made of steel instead of concrete as a potential compromise with Democrats who refuse to fund it.

He has argued the wall is necessary for national security and has tried to link terrorism to illegal immigration, without providing evidence, as justification for the plan. Democrats say the wall is expensive and inefficient, as well as contrary to American values.

Mr Trump also visited the southern border last March.

- Reuters

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