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The White House on Sunday pressed its demand for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to thwart illegal immigration, even if it forces a partial government shutdown later this week.
Stephen Miller, a key immigration adviser to President Donald Trump, told CBS News, "We will do whatever is necessary to build the border wall to stop this ongoing crisis of immigration."
Asked if that included having a shutdown of about 25 percent of the U.S. government when funding for the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies expires at midnight Friday, Miller said, "If it comes to it, absolutely."
Trump last week said he would proudly own a shutdown if opposition Democrats continue to refuse his demand for $5 billion to jump-start construction of a wall along parts of the 3,200-kilometer U.S.-Mexican border that could cost more than $20 billion. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for heightened border security, the same amount as this year, but no money specifically for a wall.
Trump campaigned throughout his 2016 run for the White House on a vow to build the border wall and make Mexico pay for it. With Mexico adamantly opposed to paying it, Trump has asked Congress for U.S. taxpayer funding, but has met with uniform disdain from Democrats and some Republican opposition as well.
Miller called the dispute over wall funding, "a very fundamental issue."
"At stake is the question of whether or not the United States remains a sovereign country. Whether or not we can establish and enforce rules for entrance into our country," he said.
Miller contended, "The Democrat party has a simple choice, they can either choose to fight for America's working class or to promote illegal immigration. You can't do both."
Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, who along with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, sparred with Trump over the wall at a White House meeting last week, said, "He is not going to get the wall in any form."
Some Republicans have suggested the impasse over wall funding could be broken by approving more money for other forms of security along the border, but Trump has yet to say whether that would be acceptable.