President makes border pitch from Oval Office, Democrats counter » President Trump took his case for a border wall to the American people last night in a prime time televised address from the Oval Office.
TRUMP: Tonight I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Every day encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country.
He added that the U.S. government is out of space to detain those who cross illegally and it has “no way to promptly return them” to their home countries.
The president cited crimes committed by immigrants in the U.S. illegally. He also noted the flow of illegal drugs across the border and laid the blame at the feet of lawmakers.
TRUMP: How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?
President Trump also argued that building a border wall protects migrants who are often harmed at the hands of human traffickers.
Minutes later, top Democrats delivered their rebuttal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke from Capitol Hill.
SCHUMER: 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.
Speaker Pelosi said new technology on the border is a better security solution than a physical barrier. And she said caravans of migrants seeking to enter the country present a humanitarian challenge, not a national security threat.
PELOSI: President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government.
The partial government shutdown is now in its third week. President Trump says he won’t sign a funding bill without money for a border wall. Democrats say they won’t negotiate border wall funds.
Americans to receive tax refunds amid shutdown » As the shutdown continues, taxpayers owed refunds will be paid on time.
The IRS is among the agencies impacted by the shutdown. But the acting director of the White House budget office, Russell Vought, said the administration will change the customary rules to make the payments possible.
Tax filing season begins January 28th. The IRS has announced it will recall a large number of furloughed employees to process tax returns.
Turkey won’t protect Kurdish fighters » The planned pull out of U.S. troops from Syria got a little more complicated on Tuesday. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: One of the key concerns surrounding the withdrawal of U.S. forces is the safety of allies in the region. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG, works with the U.S. military to combat ISIS.
And the White House wants assurances from Turkey that its military will not target the YPG in Syria when the U.S. leaves. National security adviser John Bolton met with Turkish officials on the matter this week.
But Turkey regards YPG members as terrorists. And President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday angrily rejected American demands. He said U.S. is making a “serious mistake” by placing conditions on the drawdown of U.S. forces.
He said his country has planned out a new military offensive against Syrian terror groups, including the YPG, and he added “We cannot make any concessions.”
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Saudi woman seeking asylum stranded in Thailand » Thailand’s government this week allowed an 18-year-old Saudi woman fleeing her family to enter the country. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun said she fled her home due to abuse and fears her family would kill her if she returned because she renounced Islam.
Alqunun hoped to reach Australia and apply for asylum there, but she said Thai authorities in Bangkok confiscated her passport on a stopover.
They took her to a hotel room, where she barricaded herself in and pleaded on social media to talk to UN officials.
ALQUNUN: I’m not leaving my room until I see [U.N.H.R.C]. I want asylum.
The UN refugee agency said it met with her Monday, and she left the hotel room for an undisclosed location. A UN official said Thailand’s government will provide her safe shelter pending her asylum claim and that whatever the decision will not be sent back to Saudi Arabia.
Kim Jong Un in China » North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in China for several days of meetings ahead of a possible second summit with President Trump. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones has that story.
LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: North Korean state media said Kim traveled with his wife and other leading officials at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. This is Kim’s fourth meeting with Xi.
During his New Year’s Day speech last week, Kim expressed commitment to ending his country’s nuclear program but warned he would seek an alternative if the U.S. persisted with sanctions and pressure on North Korea.
China’s Foreign Ministry did not release any information about the meeting with Xi but said China remains committed to denuclearization efforts.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.