In 2015, the year President Donald Trump launched his White House bid with a promise to build a wall on the Mexico border, illegal migration to the United States plunged 31 percent, falling near its lowest level in 50 years.
In 2017, Trump's first year in office, he continued to insist on the urgent need for a border wall, even as illegal crossings dropped further.
With parts of the federal government shut down over what has morphed into the defining symbol of Trump's presidency, administration officials are clamoring louder than ever. Only this time, they face a bona fide emergency on the border, and they're struggling to make the case there's truly a problem.
Record numbers of illegals are invading the United States, overwhelming border agents and leaving holding cells dangerously overcrowded with children, many of whom are falling sick. Two Guatemalan children taken into US custody died in December.
In a letter to lawmakers Friday, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security made a fresh appeal to amend immigration laws they denounce as "legal loopholes" and blame for creating a "border security and humanitarian crisis." But the chance of reaching consensus for such technical fixes to U.S. immigration statutes is growing more remote, buried by the pitched battle over a structure new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calls "immoral."
With both sides entrenched, there has been little bipartisan urgency to examine the relatively narrow set of legal and administrative changes that could potentially make a difference in slowing illegal invasions or improving conditions for families who arrive at the border.