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Trump says military to build border wall if congress won't fund
[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump lashed out at Democrats on border security ahead of a meeting with the party's congressional leaders aimed at avoiding a partial government shutdown, threatening to order the military to build his border wall if lawmakers don't fund it.
"If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall," Mr Trump said in a stream of Twitter messages Tuesday.
Mr Trump is meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the White House on Tuesday, as lawmakers and the administration negotiate spending legislation to avoid a partial government shutdown after Dec 21.
It's unclear how Mr Trump would intend to pay for military construction of a border wall without an allocation from Congress, which could seek to explicitly bar Defense Department money from being spent on the effort.
Mr Trump claimed in another tweet that Democrats "for strictly political reasons and because they have been pulled so far left, do NOT want Border Security. They want Open Borders for anyone to come in. This brings large scale crime and disease."
Despite Mr Trump's repeated claims to the contrary, Democrats in Congress have never proposed doing away with border rules. They generally have supported a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants - but only those who meet certain criteria. Democrats in 2013 led the charge to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, an effort that would have bolstered border security measures but which stalled because of opposition from Republicans who controlled the House.
Mr Trump touted the border wall he campaigned on in 2016 as a better solution to securing the US border with Mexico than relying solely on the military, which has been deployed to prevent migrants from Central America from entering.
Mr Trump has been threatening for months to partially close government unless he gets more money for the wall than Democrats have been willing to give him. Although Republicans still control both chambers, Mr Trump needs Democratic support in the Senate to get the 60 votes needed to advance a spending bill.
The president enters Tuesday's meeting in a shifting political environment. Democrats won control of the House in the Nov 6 elections, and Ms Pelosi is in line to become speaker in January.
A group of about 6,000 migrants from Central America has massed in temporary shelters near Tijuana. The Associated Press reported many of them have begun girding for a lengthy asylum process by seeking work in Mexico.
"Ice, Border Patrol and our Military have done a FANTASTIC job of securing our Southern Border," Mr Trump said Tuesday on Twitter. "A Great Wall would be, however, a far easier & less expensive solution."
Mr Trump said - without citing evidence - that the mobilization of military and US Customs and Border Patrol agents has been successful. "They are now staying in Mexico or going back to their original countries."