US. President Donald Trump on Friday said he would close all or “large sections” of the border with Mexico if the southern neighbor “did not immediately stop all illegal immigration.”
“Mexico must stop illegals from entering the U.S. through their country and our Southern Border. Mexico has for many years made a fortune off of the U.S., far greater than Border Costs. If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug (sic) our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week,” the president wrote on Twitter.
“This would be so easy for Mexico to do, but they just take our money and “talk.” Besides, we lose so much money with them, especially when you add in drug trafficking etc.), that the Border closing would be a good thing!” he added.
Trump also slammed Democrats for what he called “the weakest immigration laws anywhere in the World.”
“It could mean all trade” with Mexico,” Trump said when questioned by reporters in Florida. “We will close it for a long time. I am not kidding around.”
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard responded on Twitter by saying Mexico does not act on the basis of threats, adding “We are great neighbors.”
“(Ask) the million and a half Americans who chose our country as their home, the largest community of (Americans) outside the U.S. For them we are also the best neighbor they could have,” he added.
Trump has previously threatened to close the border — including at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Thursday night — but this time was different as he gave a timetable. The White House did not immediately respond to questions about whether his possible action would apply to commercial and air travel, but a substantial closure could have an especially heavy impact on cross-border communities from San Diego to South Texas, as well as supermarkets, factories, and other businesses across the country that rely on trade from Mexico.
Trump’s declaration came a day after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his country was doing its part to fight migrant smuggling. Criminal networks charge thousands of dollars a person to move migrants through Mexico, increasingly toward remote sections of the U.S.-Mexico border in large groups.
“We are going to do everything we can to help,” Lopez Obrador said. “We don’t in any way want a confrontation with the U.S. government.”
A senior Homeland Security official on Friday suggested Trump was referring to the ongoing surge of mostly Central American families crossing the border from Mexico. Many people who cross the border illegally ultimately request asylum under U.S. law, which does not require asylum seekers to enter at an official crossing.
The official said the U.S. might close designated ports of entry to re-deploy staff to help process parents and children.
Ports of entry are official crossing points that are used by residents and commercial vehicles. The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, did not specify which ports the administration was considering closing, but said only that closures were “on the table.”
Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday that 750 border inspectors would be reassigned to deal with the growing number of migrant families, and the DHS official said Friday that the department was seeking volunteers from other agencies to help.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Tuesday failed to override Trump’s first veto, handing him a victory in his effort to spend billions more for constructing barriers along the Southwest border than Congress has approved.
The vote enabled Trump to move forward on an issue that was a hallmark of his 2016 presidential campaign and of his presidency.
Trump had declared the border emergency under a law that lets him shift budget funds to address dire situations. His plan is to shift an additional $3.6 billion from military construction projects to work on border barriers.