(CBP photo)

Shutdown Update: Trump Asks Dems for Deal, Nielsen Calls Border ‘Humanitarian Crisis’

As the partial government shutdown enters its second week, President Trump started the year with two border-related tweets and asked Speaker of the House-Designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if the White House and Congress can make a deal to end the stalemate. Pelosi responded that House Democrats are offering two bills – one to open all agencies except for DHS, and the other to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8. Additionally, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen broke an 11-day social media silence on Tuesday to call the situation at the border a “humanitarian crisis,” and said that the resolution lies at the feet of Congress.

“The first bill would reopen all government agencies except for the Department of Homeland Security – not taking a position on the president’s wall. It would simply continue the funding levels and language that both parties have already supported. The second bill would extend the Department of Homeland Security’s funding through February 8th, which Republicans already supported in recent weeks,” Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Ny.) said in a joint statement. “If Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse to support the first bill, then they are complicit with President Trump in continuing the Trump shutdown and in holding the health and safety of the American people and workers’ paychecks hostage over the wall. … Once the Senate passes this legislation and puts us on a path to reopening government, the president must come to his senses and immediately sign it into law.”

The 116th Congress convenes at noon on Thursday.

On Dec. 20, Nielsen released a statement labeling the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border a “crisis” and announced “historic” actions to return migrants to Mexico to await their court date. Nielsen stopped tweeting from the date of the shutdown until Jan. 1.

In November, the mayor of Tijuana, Mexico, faced with an incoming caravan of thousands of migrants moving north from Central America, labeled the situation as a humanitarian crisis. Since then, a number of groups have called for immediate federal action, including the American Federation of Teachers, Doctors Without Borders and World Central Kitchen.

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Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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