Trump argues national security 'crisis' at US southern border

ABC News experts break down the president's comments, the Democrats' rebuttal and what comes next in the government shutdown.
9:16 | 01/09/19

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Transcript for Trump argues national security 'crisis' at US southern border
Our fellow Americans. Tonight I'm speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis of what we heard from president trump throughout the shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice. A crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul. This president just used the backdrop of the oval office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration. Tonight the battle over the border wall spilling into prime time, the president making his case of a border crisis from the oval office. Democrats rebutting him moments later. Some have suggested that building a wall is immoral. Then why do politicians build Gates and walls and fences around their houses? Not because they hate the people on the outside but because they love the people inside. The shutdown grinding into a 18th day. A very conventional-looking trump who looked very mfortable behind that desk. He had to try something different. To my mind, it looked like a president who recognized that he's losing this. The president doubling down on one of his biggest campaign promises. Build the wall! We're going to build that wall, believe me, folks, we're building it. Demanding $5.7 billion for a border wall and security, and for the U.S. Government to foot the bill. The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico. There's nothing in this trade deal that tweaks the north American free-trade agreement, nothing in that that has money from the Mexicans actually going to the U.S. Treasury to reimburse taxpayers. Ignoring that promise to have Mexico pay. We're going to have Mexico pay for the wall, and we want people to come into our country, but they're going to come into our country legally. In the nearly ten-minute address, he described the border as a pipeline four criminal activity. It is an immense problem. Drugs coming into our country. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90% of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam war. And while America is in crisis due to the opioid epidemic, most of those illegal drugs are not being smuggled through gaps in the border. Most often smuggled through the ports of entry themselves. Drug smugglers will use vehicles with concealed compartment. Dan Harris followed them using vehicles first hand in Mexico. Reporter: Clearly not the first time he's done this. And at the border earlier today, Matt Gutman gave us a sense of the scope of the growing wall. Reporter: This is what the president has been talking about. This is a gate in the steel slats that the president has mentioned. These are the steel slats. They're about six inches wide. It would take a tank to get through these. They're probably about 16 feet tall, maybe 20 feet. Climbing over would also be difficult. And this goes on for miles. It gets lower for some areas and even chain link fence in some areas. But the wall is far from complete. The president blaming the Democrats. Democrats in congress have refused to acknowledge the crisis. American democracy doesn't work that way. We don't govern by temper tantrum. President trump has appealed to fear, not facts. Division, not unity. This shutdown has simply not gone the way the president wanted. He thought the pressure would build on Democrats, that he would get that key campaign promise of the wall. Meanwhile, the scenes, the sights and sounds and smells of the trash collecting, it's a series of news cycles for the president. Trump suggesting that the shutdown could easily be fixed. This could be solved in a 45-minute meeting. I have invited congressional leadership to the whi house tomorrow to get this done. Hopefully, we can rise above partisan politics in order to support national security. The fact on the very first day of this congress, house Democrats passed senate Republican legislation to reopen government and fund smart, effective border security solutions. But the president is rejecting these bipartisan bills, which would reopen government. The president stopped short of declaring a national emergency, but did call the situation a crisis. Just because you call this a crisis doesn't necessarily make it a crisis. In fact, the fact checkers say the facts on this one are not there to back it up. But that's not stopping the president from seeming to lay the ground work to declare this a national emergency. In fact, since 2006, the number of people crossing the southern border illegally has declined, with a slight uptick in the last year. This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border. This is the cycle of the human suffering that I am determined to end. Just before the midterm election, about 5900 troops were deployed to the southern border. Part of an effort to combat the so-called caravan. Thousands of migrants traveling north from countries in central America to seek asylum in the U.S. I don't care what the fake media says, that's an invasion of our country. Currently, less than 2400 remain, bolstered by the help of the National Guard, in California, Arizona and here in Texas. We traveled to Brownsville, Texas last year to see if the fear and rhetoric out of the white house matched the experience on the ground. They're not coming to hurt us. They're coming for a better life. Alisa is a Texas native who has lived and worked in Brownsville for the last 17 years. The migrants seeking refuge here are a world apart from the criminals painted by the white house. They are coming to a place with running water, when their daughter gets raped they can seek justice. These are medicines. Reporter: She is part of a local group of citizens who volunteer their time, providing aid and assistance to asylum seekers. It's also about that, restoring a little dignities. Reporter: Then we meet two other Brownsville locals. So we were walking around this area just thinking why don't we start a kitchen. Reporter: Inside is another volunteer, making meals for migrants stuck at the Mexican side of the border. We don't have anything else to take? Feels so light. We took everything yesterday. Reporter: We are with Sergio and his team. They have the dinner packed up. And we are currently crossing over from Brownsville to Mexico from the point of entry. Just knowing that these things are being received, they're being received in an American way, with open arms. The range extends all the way to the river. Reporter: But for another resident, it's not so black and white. When you have a thousand people trying to come into any area, it's something that will raise eyebrows, concerns on what's going to happen. Reporter: He runs a gun range, and he said his clientele is divided on the issue. As long as they go through the right channels, I'm not opposed to those people at all. Reporter: Tonight in Washington, far away from the border wall, increasing frustration as the shutdown looms heavy. And the president is set to visit the border on Thursday.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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