President Donald Trump said Tuesday that parts of the federal government will stay closed until Democrats agree to put up more walls along the US-Mexico border to deter criminal elements. He said he's open to calling the wall something else as long as he ends up with an actual wall, the AP reports. In a Christmas Day appearance in the Oval Office, Trump issued a lengthy defense of his desire for a wall, saying it's the only way to stop drugs and human traffickers from entering the country. In a nod to the political stakes he's facing, Trump said he wants the wall by "election time" in 2020. The promise of a border wall was a central component of Trump's presidential campaign.
"I can't tell you when the government's going to be open. I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall or fence, whatever they'd like to call it," Trump said, referring to Democrats who staunchly oppose walling off the border. "I'll call it whatever they want, but it's all the same thing," he told reporters after participating in a holiday video conference with representatives from all five branches of the military stationed in Alaska, Bahrain, Guam, and Qatar. Trump argued that drug flows and human trafficking can only be stopped by a wall. Democrats oppose spending money on a wall, preferring instead to pump the dollars into fencing, technology, and other means of controlling access to the border. Trump argued that Democrats oppose a wall only because he is for one. (Trump told a child that believing in Santa in age 7 is "marginal.")