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Remarks in a Meeting With Conservative Leaders on Border Security and an Exchange With Reporters

January 23, 2019

The President. So thank you all very much—very much—for being here. And a lot of friends in the room. A lot of great friends. And, Mr. Vice President, thank you. And, Secretary Nielsen, thank you very much. We're doing a great job on the border, considering we don't have the tools. They don't give us the tools to work with, meaning, we have to have a wall. We have to have a barricade of some kind, a steel barricade. It's already designed.

We're building a lot of wall as we speak, a tremendous amount. And we're renovating a lot of the other wall. Otherwise—by the way, with what's coming up, because of the strong economy that we have—I mean, we haven't had an economy like this, I guess, in over 50 years. Would you say that's correct, Steve?

Committee To Unleash Prosperity Founder Stephen Moore. Something like that, yes.

The President. And because of the strong economy, everyone is pouring up, and we're stopping them. But it's a lot of work. We have incredible people at the border, and you have to thank all of the——

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen. Yes, sir.

The President. ——Border Patrol agents and the ICE agents. I see in Long Island they don't want ICE. The radical Democrats don't want ICE there, because they're too good; they're doing too good a job. [Laughter]

And I always talk about Long Island; that's one of the real hotbeds for the MS-13 gangs. And I just see this morning, where the really, radical Democrats don't want them there, because they don't want to do anything to disturb MS-13. And when you think about it, MS-13 is about the most violent gang, they say; one of the most violent anywhere in the world. And they have done—we're sending them out by the thousands out of our country. So we think it's too bad.

But I would say this: that the State of the Union speech has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn't want to hear the truth. [Laughter] She doesn't want the American public to hear what's going on. And she's afraid of the truth. And the superleft Democrats, the radical Democrats, what's going on in that party is shocking. I know many people that were Democrats, and they're switching over right now, and they're switching over quickly. So I hope they know what they're doing for their party. So far, they haven't. If you know, I won the Senate—meaning, we won the Senate altogether—but we get no credit for that. They don't talk about that. They talk about the House.

I didn't have any chance to—other than a couple of people, like from Kentucky, where I went and campaigned for Andy Barr and for some others, they ended up winning their races. But I couldn't campaign too much. Too many people. But we did a great job with the Senate, and people don't want to talk about it.

I will say that the American people want to hear the truth. They have to hear the truth. And the truth is all about—and said, I think and I hope, well—we were planning on doing a really very important speech in front of the House and the Senate, the Supreme Court, and everybody else that's there. It's called the State of the Union. It's in the Constitution. We're supposed to be doing it.

And now Nancy Pelosi—or "Nancy," as I call her—she doesn't want to hear the truth, and she doesn't want to hear—more importantly, the American people hear the truth. So we just found out that she's canceled it, and I think that's a great blotch on the incredible country that we all love. It's a great, great, horrible mark. I don't believe it's ever happened before, and it's always good to be part of history. But this is a very negative part of history. This is where people are afraid to open up and say what's going on. So it's a very, very negative part of history.

I'd like to start today—we're talking about shutdown; we're talking about some conservative values. These are the great conservative leaders of our country, and they have very strong views. And we'll be doing that after the press leaves. But they have very strong views on the shutdown. And it's not that we have a choice. I don't think we have a choice. We have to make our country safe. We have done such an incredible job with such poor tools. We have catch-and-release, where you catch somebody, and then you have to release that person into our country.

We have so many different elements of rule and regulation. It's a very sad thing that's gone on. And this has happened over a long period of time.

You take a look at the visa lottery. When there's a lottery, do you think they're putting their best people into those lotteries? We—it's a lottery. You know what a lottery is. Does anybody think they're putting their best people in?

You have chain migration, where, as an example, the killer—the man who ran over people on the West Side Highway in New York—8 people killed, 12 injured. And when you say "12 injured," nobody knows how badly injured they are. This isn't like they had a headache. This is big, big, and horrible problems. Loss of legs and arms and worse. And this man brought in many people—many, many people—through chain migration, it's called.

So these are all Democrat principles that are no good for our country; they're hurting our country. And if we did what we had to do, you would bring crime down in half in our country, because so much of it comes through our southern border.

Honduras is doing nothing for us. Guatemala is doing nothing for us. El Salvador is doing nothing for us. And we pay them hundreds of millions of dollars a year, but we're going to be stopping pretty soon. In fact, we're looking at it right now. We don't want to do it. Because when caravans form in the middle of a country, the country can very easily stop those caravans from forming, very easily. I actually think they encourage the caravans, because they want to get rid of the people from their country and certain people. A lot of gang members are there. In the last caravan, we had 618 people with criminal records and some of them very serious records.

I won't soon forget the man that was interviewed where he wanted some kind of pardon or whatever when he came into the country. And the network person said, "Well, what did you do?" And he said "murder" or something to that effect. And she goes, "Whoa, murder." Well, we have—that's what we have. We have a lot of very dangerous people that want to come into our country. We're not letting them in.

We want people to come in based on merit. We want people to come in that can help us successfully run all these companies that are pouring into the United States because of what we've done and because of all of the incentives, Steve, that we've given, and because this is where the action is. Steve Moore is one of the great financial gurus, and he would tell you how well we're doing as a country.

But we have a lot of people that, really, we need. We have the lowest unemployment rate we've had in much more than 50 years, with African American, with Asian American, with Hispanic American. We have the lowest unemployment rate we've had in the history of our country.

And that's why, when you look at the Hispanic polls, I'm up 19 percent. And the reason I'm up 19 percent—I don't even think it's the unemployment; I think it's the fact that they understand, better than anybody, what's going on at the border.

And they say that President Trump is the only one that's saying it right, and he's doing what you have to. That's why people were so surprised when they saw the poll that just came out, where I'm up to 50 percent with the Hispanic and up 19 points in a short period of time. Because they get it better than anybody at the border. They know what's happening at the border, and they know it's a big scam.

And the Democrats don't want to stop people. That means automatically massive amounts of crime. And we're not going to put up with it.

So Nancy Pelosi, knowing these facts and knowing it's something that she can't win, that she just went out and said, let's cancel—for the first time in the history of our country—"Let's cancel the State of the Union Address." And it's a disgrace. Just so you know, she uses on the basis of the shutdown. But when she asked me to make the address—formally, in writing; most of you have a copy of the letter—when she asked me to make the address, she did it during the shutdown, well into the shutdown, by a couple of weeks.

So the shutdown was going on. Now she's blaming the shutdown. So if it was because of the shutdown, why do you ask that the address be made? And she asked that the address be made during the shutdown, and now she's blaming the shutdown.

She also knew—because she went to our people, and she asked, "Would it be a security problem?" She knew it wasn't a security problem. She blamed security, but she knew it wasn't a security problem, and she knew that loud and clear.

And she went to the people. She asked. They said, "We have no problem whatsoever." I just got back from Iraq. I was very safe in Iraq, and I felt very safe. We had great, great security. If we can handle Iraq, we can handle the middle of Washington in a very, very spectacular building and a beautiful room that we should be in and that's where it's been for a very long time.

So it's a sad thing for our country. We'll do something in the alternative. We'll be talking to you about that at a later date.

But I have to say, it's an honor to have these great leaders with us, and we're going to be talking about shutdown. We're going to be talking about other things. And we're going to be talking about—outside of this event that we just discussed—how well our country is doing, because we're setting records in so many different ways. We're setting jobs records.

Right now, at this very moment, we have more people working in the United States than at any time in the history of our country. Think of that. That's a big, big statement. I just had a meeting on drug pricing and various other things. And prescription drugs, for the first time in history—the history of our country—have gone down in 2018.

So for last year—just got the numbers—for the first time in the history of our country, prescription drug prices have gone down. They've been like a rocket ship until I got here. And we have more to do. They're going to go down further. But think of that: For the first time—I say it because you guys don't want to report it, but that's a big thing, because drug pricing has been very important to me, as is health care.

First time in the history of our country, in 2018, prescription drug prices have gone down. That's a big number. You didn't even know that. Kay, I don't think anybody at this table knew that. It just came out. So we'll let you know.

So it's too bad with Nancy Pelosi, what she's done. It's radical Democrats. They've become a radicalized party. They really have. They have become a radicalized party. I actually think they've become a very dangerous party for this country. If you listen to what they're saying, what they're doing, I think they've become a very dangerous—a very, very dangerous—party for this country.

I think that Chuck Schumer, sadly, is dominated by the radical left, and he is dominated by Nancy Pelosi. Very strongly dominated. He can't move; he's a puppet. He's a puppet for Nancy Pelosi, if you can believe that. But that's what's become, and that's what's happening.

And we're not going to let it happen to our Nation, and we are not going to allow the radical left to control our borders. Because if they do, you will see crime; you will see drugs; you will see human trafficking like you have never seen ever in the history of our country. You will never see anything like what you would see. So we will never let the radical left control our borders.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Q. Sir, she didn't say——

State of the Union Address

Q. Mr. President, are you not giving the speech on Tuesday night?

The President. We'll be announcing what we're doing.

State of the Union Address/Border Security

Q. Sir, she said it's not canceled, but that she wants to come to an agreeable date. So will you agree to a new date?

The President. We'll see. We'll see. Well, it wouldn't be very hard, but that's not what she means. And it's very sad. I think it's a very, very bad thing for our country, and it's a horrible precedent. And we have many positive things to say, but we also have things that we want to turn into positives that are big negatives.

The southern border is a very, very big deal. It should've been handled by other Presidents for many times, just like Israel with the—if you look, moving the Embassy to Jerusalem. Every President talked about it; nobody did it until I came along. Same thing in a certain, different way with the southern border. It should've been stopped a long time ago. They talked about it. They had approvals for doing it, and they were unable to pull it off. Other Presidents should've done this. We're going to do it. And it's not because I want to, it's because I have no choice. Because if we don't do it, this country is going to be worse than any—at any time in our history in terms of drug infestation and in terms of crime. And our crime numbers are really good, but our crime numbers would be very much better if we had a stopped-up southern border.

And by the way, the caravan now, they're saying, is massive. The caravan that's coming up. Thank you very much, Honduras. We send Honduras hundreds of millions of dollars, and they send us caravans. The three of those countries.

And you know, as I said, we're probably going to be stopping that. We're working on that right now. I would stop it. Because, you know, you have two theories: You can give more and let them do economic development, or you can do less. I'm of the less theory. I don't think we should give anything to them.

And we've done this with numerous countries over the world where they're not treating us right. We have countries that get hundreds of millions of dollars; they don't even vote for us at the United Nations, until we say we're not going to pay you anymore, and then they immediately vote for us. So you know, but that's not a—I don't call that a vote. [Laughter]

So I want to thank everybody very much. We're going to have a great meeting. And we will have a response to Nancy Pelosi in due course. But what she's doing to the American people, what she is doing to our Constitution, is a disgrace. Thank you very much.

Q. Are you going to declare a national emergency, Mr. President? Are you still going to declare a national emergency?

The President. Thank you very much, everybody.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:29 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Rep. Garland H. "Andy" Barr IV; Sayfullo Saipov, suspect in the vehicular terrorist attack on the bike path along the West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan on October 31, 2017; Kay Cole James, president, Heritage Foundation; and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in a Meeting With Conservative Leaders on Border Security and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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