The speech, which was followed moments later by a rebuttal from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, drew seemingly deep lines in the sand while also emphasizing the importance of compromise. Republicans and Democrats plan to meet Wednesday to continue negotiations to end the ongoing partial federal government shutdown over border wall funding, now in its third week. (Trump has said the shutdown could last for "years" if no deal is reached.)
Noting that "more Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War," the president, looking directly into the camera, called for closing the pipeline that permits "vast quantities of illegal drugs – including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl" – to cross the border.
"Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone – 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border," Trump, who signed a bipartisan opioid bill into law late last year, remarked at the beginning of his address.
He continued: "This is a humanitarian crisis – a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul. Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States – a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims by far of our broken system."