Members of the Trump administration on Sunday defended the president’s vow to shut down the U.S.-Mexico border, referring to a “crisis” in the number of migrants attempting to cross over.
President TrumpDonald John TrumpSaudi King ‘absolutely rejects’ Trump measure on Golan Heights Five things to watch as 2020 Dems release their tax returns Baldwin returns to SNL to summarize Mueller report: ‘Daddy won’ MORE threatened earlier this week to shut down the border in response to growing warnings from the administration about a crisis at the border.
Trump said multiple times last week that he could close parts of the border unless Mexico’s government immediately stopped illegal crossings and while also blaming Democrats for “weak immigration laws” for making record high immigration numbers possible.
On Friday, he said there is “there’s a very good likelihood” he would shut down the border.
“Mexico is going to have to do something, otherwise I’m closing the border. I’ll just close the border. And with a deficit like we have with Mexico and have had for many years, closing the border would be a profit-making operation. When you close the border also you will stop a lot of the drugs from coming in,” Trump added to reporters in Florida.
“It certainly isn’t a bluff. You can take the president seriously,” White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayTrump says Schiff should be forced to resign Trump: Schiff should be forced out of office Schiff defiant: ‘Undoubtedly, there is collusion’ MORE later said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“Congress can fix the problem of immigration that they’ve failed to fix. This president is looking at the metrics,” she said, referring to Congress. She added that the U.S. has “never seen a surge” in immigration “like this.”
Her comments come after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday that immigration enforcement has reached a “breaking point.”
McAleenan cited the apprehension of more than 4,000 migrants a day recently at ports of entry to argue that the system is strained and cannot handle anyone else.
Issues with backlogs of court cases and lack of proper facilities to hold those who seek asylum in the U.S. have been increasing with the growing tide of migrants. Roughly 100,000 people arrive at the southern border every month, according to Department of Homeland Security tracking.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHarris sends letter to Barr demanding answers over ObamaCare repeal efforts Overnight Health Care — Presented by the American Conservative Union — Trump says GOP senators writing ‘spectacular’ ObamaCare replacement | New ObamaCare fight puts spotlight on Mulvaney | NY attorney general sues Sackler family over opioid epidemic The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage MORE also appeared on the Sunday talk show circuit, telling ABC’s “This Week” that it would take “something dramatic” for Trump not to shut down the border.
“When Jeh Johnson said it’s a crisis, I hope people now believe us. A lot of folks in the media… Democrats didn’t believe us a month ago, two months ago, when we said what was happening at the border was a crisis: a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis,” he explained.
The move to shut off the border would be a massive escalation for Trump, who has centered much of his presidency around creating a border wall and hard-line immigration policies.
Closing the border would have significant consequences for both those seeking asylum in the U.S. and for U.S.-Mexico trade.
His messaging about threats from immigrants, that they cause crime and bring in drugs, closely mirrors his arguments in favor of shutting down the government for over a month in an attempt to secure funding for a border wall.
Trump ended up declaring a national emergency in February to allocate roughly $8 billion in federal funds to construct additional miles of barriers to prevent further crossings after Democrats refused to provide his full request in the budget.
This is not the first time Trump has proposed closing the border in response to spikes in immigration. He threatened in November and in December of last year to do the same, but never followed through.
His tendency to issue the threat has made some question his resolve.
Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOn The Money: Wells Fargo CEO steps down | Trump vows to keep funding for Special Olympics | House panel approves marijuana banking bill | Controversial Fed pick gains support in Senate DeVos says she fought ‘behind the scenes’ for Special Olympics funding Trump: ‘The Special Olympics will be funded’ MORE (D-Ill.) called the threat a “totally unrealistic boast” while on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“What we need to do is focus on what’s happening in Central America, where three countries are dissembling before for our eyes and people are desperately coming to the United States,” the Senate minority whip added. “The president cutting off aid to those countries will not solve the problem.”
The U.S. halted aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras on Saturday because of the number of migrants coming from them to the U.S. through Mexico.
Trump said on Friday that the countries “set up” migrant caravans to travel to the U.S. border.