WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, escalating the battle over his border wall plan in a televised Oval Office address to the nation, referred to the murder of an Indian-American police officer in California by an illegal immigrant as he demanded $5.7 billion to fund the wall on the border with Mexico to keep the country safe. Mr Trump described the situation at the border as a "growing crisis" hurting millions of Americans.
Corporal Ronil "Ron" Singh, a 33-year-old Indian-origin police officer, was shot dead during a traffic stop a day after Christmas by an illegal immigrant named Gustavo Perez Arriaga when he was planning to flee to his native Mexico.
"America's heart broke the day after Christmas, when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien, who just came across the border," Mr Trump said in his address. "The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in the country."
He went on to mention more crimes committed by illegal immigrants as he tried to drive home his point.
"There is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border," Mr Trump said in his address. "This is a humanitarian crisis - a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul," he said, emphasizing that the federal government "remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security."
Mr Trump had spent days mulling declaring a state of emergency along the border that would have given him powers to bypass Congress, which has so far refused to fund the wall project, and draw funds from the military to build the border barrier.
Last week, he spoke with the Corporal Ronil Singh's widow, Anamika Chand-Singh, and his colleagues at the Newman Police Department, praising his service and offering condolences. Gustavo Perez Arriaga has been arrested from a home in Kern County in California.