On Friday, as President Trump visited the US-Mexico border in California, he appeared to walk back his previous comments implying a warning period of up to a full year before potentially closing the border, stating, “It won’t take a year, it’ll take a day.”
Earlier in the day, the president praised Mexico’s efforts to curb the rising numbers of illegal migrants apprehended at the southern border, but noted that, should the alarming numbers continue to rise, he would not hesitate to seal the border.
Trump’s efforts to bolster security at the US-Mexico border have been met with vehement opposition from Democrats, and rousing praise from law enforcement officials – and has left US lawmakers bitterly divided.
While touring sections of recently-overhauled border barriers, Trump was awarded with an honorary plaque by Border Patrol agents, for “proudly defending the American border.”
From The Hill:
President Trump on Friday said he could quickly shutter the U.S. southern border, one day after saying he would give Mexico a “one-year warning” before taking drastic measures to stop illegal immigration.
While visiting a Border Patrol station in Southern California, Trump praised Mexico’s efforts to apprehend migrants from Central America but said he would not be afraid to close down the border if necessary.
“It won’t take a year, it’ll take a day,” Trump said, accusing media outlets of writing “a lot of fake news” about how long it would take for him to make the move.
On Thursday, the president said“we’re going to give them a one-year warning” before slapping tariffs on autos made in Mexico or shutting down the border if Mexico’s government does not do more to stem the flow of drugs and migrants.
Trump in those remarks backed off his previous threat to close the border this week, a move lawmakers and business groups warned could inflict significant harm on the U.S. economy.
Yet Trump earlier Friday denied changing his mind about shuttering the border and said he could do so at a later date.
“I never changed my mind at all,” he told reporters as he left the White House. “So Mexico, I have to say, has been very, very good.”
Though Trump has sent a series of mixed signals in recent days, he used his visit to California to promote his administration’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, an issue he has put at the center of his 2020 reelection campaign.
He met with Border Patrol and military leaders before touring a section of rebuilt fencing he says is part of his long-promised border wall, even though the project was authorized years ago.
A Border Patrol agent gifted Trump a plaque mounted on a portion of the first 30 feet of wall along the southern border. The agent who presented it, Gloria Chavez, said it was for “number 45” for “proudly defending the American border” and showing “unwavering support for the men and women” on the front line.
The president touted the wall as the answer to stopping illegal border crossings, pledging he would have roughly 400 miles built in the next two years. It is an ambitious goal, given that the 654 miles of existing barriers took years to build while having congressional approval.
Trump is seeking to jump-start construction of his wall by declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress, a move that is being challenged by House Democrats, state attorney generals and immigrant-rights groups in federal court.
Nonetheless, the president said the wall and other measures were meant to send a stern message to people hoping to cross into the country illegally.
“They system is full, can’t take you any more,” Trump said, adding that whether it is “illegal immigration” or “asylum” seekers, the answer is “I’m sorry, we’re full.”
The Trump administration has described the situation on the border as a crisis caused by thousands of migrant families and unaccompanied minors showing up each day, overwhelming detention facilities and exacerbating backlogs in immigration courts and asylum proceedings.
“It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen,” Trump said.