President Donald Trump warned Friday that he would shut down the southern border next week “if Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States.“
“We’ll keep it closed for a long time. I’m not playing games,“ Trump told reporters during a visit to the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee, Fla. Asked if that would include trade — Mexico is the country’s third-largest trading partner — Trump said “It could be [closed] to all trade.“
“Mexico is making absolutely a fortune with the United States. They have a trade surplus of over $100 billion, which is far bigger than anybody understands,“ he said.
Trump said the situation is urgent because “we have right now two big caravans coming from Guatemala, massive caravans, walking right through Mexico.“ If they don’t stop‘ em, we’re closing the border,“ he added.
He continued the tough talk later at his Mar-a-Lago resort. “Mexico is going to have to do something. Otherwise, I’m closing the border. I’ll just close the border,“ Trump said. “And with a deficit like we’ve have with Mexico and have had for many years, closing the borders will be a profit-making operation. When you close the border, also you will stop a lot of the drugs from coming in.“
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a non-profit business lobbying group, estimates the U.S. and Mexico trade about $1.7 billion in goods daily. The organization told the Associated Press that closing the border would be an “unmitigated economic debacle.“
Trump’s comments came after a morning where he took to Twitter to blame Democrats on for weak U.S. immigration laws, and then said he’d be closing the border, “or large sections of the Border, next week“ unless Mexico took immediate action.
“This would be so easy for Mexico to do, but they just take our money and ‘talk,’“ he wrote in a series of three tweets.
The Twitter blast came hours after he issued a similar warning during a rally in Michigan on Thursday night. He repeated his unfounded claims that migrant caravans are “pouring across“ the U.S.-Mexico border, and implored the Mexican government to do more to stop them.
“If they don’t, and I am telling you right now, we will close the damn border,“ he said.
Trump also mocked people who came to the border seeking to claim asylum, saying they’re coached by lawyers to say they fear for their lives. “It’s a big fat con job, folks,“ Trump told the crowd.
He banged the same drum on Twitter Thursday morning. “Mexico is doing NOTHING to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our country,“ he tweeted. “They are all talk and no action. Likewise, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have taken our money for years, and do Nothing.“
That tweet came just hours before Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen offered praise for the work the latter countries have done to slow the flow of immigrants.