President Donald Trump on Tuesday summarily dismissed Congress’s efforts at an impeachment do-over while celebrating one of what he hoped will be his enduring accomplishments: the completion of 450 miles of border wall.
Trump visited the Rio Grande valley to honor and thank many of those involved in the process, including border agents and those involved in constructing the wall.
“We gave you 100 percent of what you wanted so now you have no excuses,” he joked. “… We can’t let the next admin even think about taking it down if you can believe that.”
However, Trump expressed concern over the devastating impact that the incoming Biden administration could have if it moved to unravel many of his hard-fought border policies, warning that already thousands of migrants were lining up for what they expected would be a “gravy train” of relaxed immigration laws similar to those under the Obama adminsitration.
“When I took office we inherited a broken, dysfunctional and open border,” Trump said. “Everybody was pouring in at will. … We reformed our immigration system and achieved the most secure southern border in US history.”
The 450 miles constitutes roughly a quarter of the total border between the US and Mexico, spanning Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Trump seemed to tacitly acknowledge some criticism that he had bitten off more than he could chew in his early campaign promises.
“A lot of the wall you have is incredibly natural,” he said. “You have the mountains, you have the river, you have some very powerful water areas. You have areas that are virtually impossible to get by, so we didn’t need walls everywhere but where you need them.”
But he noted that the accomplishment was both a momentous political victory in its own right and an effective deterrent when paired with the vast reforms to the broken web of immigration and asylum policies.
“It’s been so successful that we’ve added nearly 300 miles … and now we have it either in construction or pre-construction,” he said.
After initially pledging a prompt repeal of Trump’s policies, Biden more recently seemed to backpedal.
After Trump reversed Obama’s executive orders, open-border activists fought a sustained legal battle to prevent the changes from taking effect.
But despite having the support of activist judges, several of those policies that the current administration fought for have now been codified into law.
Likewise, Trump’s diplomatic agreements with countries including Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador may be complicated to unravel.
Trump expressed hope that given their effectiveness at preventing crime, terrorism, drug-smuggling and other detrimental outcomes, newly empowered Democrats would put rank partisanship aside.
“The safety of our nation must come before politics,” he said. “We have many disagreements in the country, but we should all agree the urgent need to protect our borders … without political interference.”
The president did begin the speech touching on issues that have dominated the past week’s news cycle, including the latest ploy to remove him from office.
He has suggested in the past that Democrats may be seeking to explore the 25th Amendment, which would allow a vice president and Cabinet to declare the sitting president unfit for office, as leverage against Biden and not himself.
“The 25th Amendment is of zero risk to me, but will come back to haunt Joe Biden and the Biden administration,” Trump said. “As the expression goes, be careful what you wish for.”
He likewise denounced the harmful impact that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment was having at an already “tender time” for the divided nation.
“The impeachment hoax is a continuation of the greatest and most vicious witch hunt in the history of our country and is causing tremendous anger and division and pain, far greater than most people will ever understand,” he said.
Yet, Trump denounced those claiming to be supporters of his movement who might commit violent and illegal acts in his name as being antithetical to what he stood for.
He reiterated his strong support for law enforcement after the protests ostensibly pitted police and National Guard members against pro-Trump demonstrators.
“As I have consistently said throughout my administration, we believe in respecting America’s history and traditions, not tearing them down,” he said. “We believe in the rule of law, not in violence or rioting.”
Evidence suggests their may have been an Antifa presents that infiltrated the crowd and fomented the violence at the Capitol.
However, the FBI has also warned of potential armed protests being planned for next week during Biden’s inauguration.
Although Trump has indicated he does not plan to attend the inauguration, he called for a peaceful transition.
“Now is the time for our nation to heal, and it’s time for peace and for calm, respect for law enforcement and the great people within law enforcement,” he said. “It is the foundation of the MAGA agenda—and we’re a nation of law and we’re a nation of order.”