Trump threatens to close US Mexico border, cuts aid to South America


The United States has threatened to close the border to Mexico.

The threats come after President Donald Trump accused Central American countries of purposefully sending migrants to the United States, and having “set up” migrant caravans to travel towards US borders.

Faced with a surge of asylum seekers from Central American countries who travel through Mexico, Mr Trump said on Friday there was a “good likelihood” he would close the border this coming week if Mexico does not stop unauthorised immigrants from reaching the US.

The President also announced the administrations intentions to cut aid to the “Northern Triangle” — the three developing South American nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Tens of thousands of hopeful US migrants, including members of migrant caravans, children and families, originate from Northern Triangle nations.

On Saturday the President took to Twitter to implore Mexico to use its “very strong immigration laws stop the many thousands of people trying to get into the USA”.

He further criticised US immigration laws, which allow those arriving at the border to apply for asylum, as “stupid”.

Speaking to US ABC’s This Week show, White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday the President had few other options in the absence of any support from Democrats for more border security or legislative action to change US immigration laws.

“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 said it would take “something dramatic” for the President to change his position.

“The President will do everything he can. If closing the ports of entry means that, that’s exactly what he intends to do.

“We need border security and we’re going to do the best we can with what we have.”

Mr Mulvaney also called for Mexico to strengthen its own southern border, saying Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador need to do more to prevent the waves of migration. Otherwise, he said, “it makes very little sense for us to continue to send them aid”.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Sunday that the situation at the border was at “melting point”.

Ms Conway rejected the idea that cutting funding to Northern Triangle nations could worsen the humanitarian crisis. “The conditions are already awful,” she said.

“The executive branch has done so much to try to mitigate these awful circumstances, and we need to send a message back to these countries, too.”

Ms Conway insisted the President was serious in his threat. “It certainly is not a bluff. You can take the President seriously,” she said.

Mr Trump has repeatedly said he would close the US border with Mexico during his two years in office.

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media_cameraDonald Trump referred to his country’s immigration policy as ‘stupid’. Picture: Nicholas Kamm
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media_cameraPeople walk at the El Chaparral port of entry on their way to enter the US. Picture: Mario Tama

‘I DON’T SEE HOW HE COULD DO IT’

His latest threat had workers and students who frequently cross the border worried about the potential disruption to their lives.

Closing the border would have drastic effects not just on migrants seeking settlement in the US but on the trade and commerce of the nation.

Mexico is the US’ third largest trading partner — a relationship that’s worth about $AU858 billion ($US611 billion).

“It’s unworkable and unrealistic, and I don’t think he could really do it,” said Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council on Sunday. “If the closing of the border extended to vehicles and goods, factories could be immediately shut down as parts fail to arrive.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, a hopeful Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 election, has called for immigration reform in the wake of a “terrible humanitarian crisis”.

“We need to make sure that our borders are secure, but also we need a humane policy at the border in which we are not yanking tiny children from the arms of their mothers,” Mr Sanders told CBS.

100,000 ARRIVALS PER MONTH

At a Saturday rally on the border in El Paso, Texas, Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke denounced Mr Trump’s immigration policies as the politics of “fear and division”.

The number of migrant arrivals has now reached about 100,000 per month, according US Department of Homeland Security officials.

The system is overwhelmed to breaking point, with US immigration courts backlogged with hundreds of thousands of individual cases to process. The current waiting period is years long.

Democrats and Republicans continue to disagree about how to handle the escalating crisis, with Mr Trump’s administration advocating for barrier walls and tougher schemes; Democrats have argued for extra facilities to handle the groups, and criticised the Trump administration for separating families at the border.

The Mexican government has created a controversial program to appease the Trump administration, allowing migrants to live and work in the country while they wait for the US to process their claims. The “Remain in Mexico” program came at the request of the US government.

So far this year, Mexico has deported about 25,000 Central Americans.

“What we need to do is focus on what’s happening in Central America, where three countries are disassembling before our eyes and people are desperately coming to the United States,” Senate minority whip Dick Durbin told NBC News’ Meet The Press.

“The President’s cutting off aid to these countries will not solve that problem.”

— With Reuters

Originally published as Trump doubles down on border threat





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