President Donald Trump made his case to the nation for the border wall in a prime-time televised speech, while blaming Democrats for the government shutdown and citing the dangers of illegal immigration.
Trump referred to the "tragic reality" of illegal immigration, and said he was dedicated to stopping the humanitarian crisis.
The president also blamed Democrats for the government shutdown, saying that their reticence to fully fund border security was forcing his hand on the issue.
"The only solution is for Democrats to pass a spending bill that defends our borders and reopens the government," Trump said.
He also said that he had agreed with the Democrats' demand that the barrier not be a concrete wall.
"At the request of Democrats, it would be a steel barrier, rather than a concrete wall," Trump said. "This barrier is absolutely critical to border security."
Trump cited some of the families that were hurt by illegal alien crimes and murders that would have been prevented with more forceful immigration enforcement .
Many were predicting that he would declare a "national emergency" on illegal immigration and use the powers stemming from such a declaration to order the military to build his wall.
CNN's Jim Acosta reported before the speech that many of the president's advisers were encouraging him to declare an emergency despite the legal repercussions that such a proclamation would inspire.
"Trump has been reaching out to friends and advisers to ask about national emergency declaration at the border," Acosta tweeted. "Several of those folks have told Trump it 'probably won't work' from a legal standpoint, I'm told."
"He is receiving advice that he should do it anyway to please his base," Acosta added.
The president did not announce a national emergency during the prime time speech.
The Democratic response
Newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) gave a Democratic response after the president's address.
"The president has chosen fear," responded Pelosi.
"No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down," Schumer said.