Amid Shutdown Crisis, Trump Plans Visit To U.S. Southern Border, White House Says

Mark WilsonGetty Images

Amid the impasse to fund the federal government, it was announced on Monday that President Donald Trump was planning a visit to the U.S. southern border sometime next week.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted the announcement on her Twitter account.

“President @realDonaldTrump will travel to the Southern border on Thursday to meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis. More details will be announced soon,” she wrote.

The government funding crisis is based on the fact that Congress and the White House have not yet reached an agreement for funding a $5 billion border wall between the United States and Mexico, a construction project that would extend already-established barriers between the two nations.

The president announced in late December that he would not sign any continuing resolution bill to keep aspects of the government funded until the bill also included funding for the border wall, per reporting from National Public Radio.

A visit to the border wall will likely include optics that will help Trump in his debate over the need for the border wall. Per Sanders’ tweet, we can probably expect to see Trump interacting with border patrol agents, many of whom have expressed strong support for a border wall.

Some have called out Trump’s use of border agents for political purposes as unethical. Last week, after a private meeting with some agents, Trump brought them out to speak with the media in the Press Briefing Room at the White House, where the president made clear that they shared his viewpoints.

Trump, while speaking to the press on Thursday, said the agents had “basically said — and I think I can take the word ‘basically’ out: ‘Without a wall, you cannot have border security,'” according to reporting from Roll Call.

While no law was violated with regard to putting border patrol agents front-and-center in the press briefing, several experts on ethics said that doing so was highly disconcerting.

“In particular, career Border Patrol officers are expected to carry out their official duties and perform law enforcement functions,” said Virginia Canter, a legal counsel with the nonprofit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “The president’s political appointees are appointed to develop and promote his policy goals. Trump’s use of career border patrol officers in the White House briefing room takes them away from their legitimate law enforcement duties in a desperate attempt to promote his political agenda.”

Tens of thousands of border patrol agents working on the southern border are doing so without pay, reported Newsweek at the end of last month.