WASHINGTON: Threatening drastic action against Mexico, President Donald Trump declared he is likely to shut down America’s southern border next week unless Mexican authorities immediately halt all illegal immigration.
Trump, who also cut U.S. aid to three Central American nations whose citizens are fleeing north, emphasized “I am not kidding around” about closing the border, even though such a severe move could hit the economies of both countries.
“It could mean all trade” with Mexico, Trump said when questioned on Friday by reporters in Florida. “We will close it for a long time.”
Trump tweeted Friday morning, “If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States through our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week.”
He didn’t qualify his threat with “or large sections,” stating: “There is a very good likelihood I’ll be closing the border next week, and that is just fine with me.”
Though Trump has previously threatened to close the border and has not followed through, his administration moved to cut direct aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The State Department said in a statement that it will suspend 2017 and 2018 payments to the trio of nations that have been home to some of the migrant caravans that have marched through Mexico to the U.S. border.
Trump has been promising for more than two years to build a long, impenetrable wall along the border to stop illegal immigration, though Congress has been reluctant to provide the money he needs.
In the meantime, he has repeatedly threatened to close the border, but this time, with a new surge of migrants heading north , he gave a definite timetable.
Trump’s latest declaration came after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his country was doing its part to fight migrant smuggling.
“We want to have a good relationship with the government of the United States,” Lopez Obrador said Friday. He added: “We are going to continue helping so that the migratory flow, those who pass through our country, do so according to the law, in an orderly way.”