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Trump threatens to close parts of border with Mexico next week

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday. Credit: AP/Paul Sancya

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to close parts of the southern border next week if Mexico doesn’t stop migrants from illegally entering the United States immediately.

Adding new pressure to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Trump told reporters in Florida that a border shutdown could mean “all trade” with Mexico, and he set a deadline of next week. “We will close it for a long time,” he said. “I am not kidding around.”

Trump issued the threat first in tweets from his golf resort Mar-a-Lago in Florida and then while speaking to reporters as he arrived in Canal Point, Florida, to inspect repair work on the Herbert Hoover Dike in Lake Okeechobee.

“If Mexico doesn’t immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States throug [sic] our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING … the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week,” Trump said in a series of three tweets.

“This would be so easy for Mexico to do, but they just take our money and ‘talk,’” Trump tweeted. “Besides, we lose so much money with them, especially when you add in drug trafficking etc.), that the Border closing would be a good thing!”

Trump posted those tweets a day after he spoke at a political rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., and called immigration lawyers helping migrants seeking asylum in the United States a “big fat con job.”

Trump’s declaration came a day after Lopez Obrador said his country was doing its part to fight migrant smuggling. Criminal networks charge thousands of dollars a person to move migrants through Mexico, increasingly in large groups toward remote sections of the border.

“We want to have a good relationship with the government of the United States,” Lopez Obrador said Friday, the Associated Press reported. “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.”

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about whether his possible action would apply to commercial and air travel, but a substantial closure could have an especially heavy impact on cross-border communities from San Diego to South Texas, as well as supermarkets that sell Mexican produce, factories that rely on imported parts, and other businesses across the country, the AP reported.

The U.S. and Mexico trade about $1.7 billion in goods daily, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which said closing the border would be “an unmitigated economic debacle” that would threaten 5 million U.S. jobs.

At a news conference in El Paso Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said immigration enforcement at the border is at a “breaking point” as migrants in custody this week reached 12,000 — twice as many as that which would indicate a crisis.

Six weeks ago, the president declared a national emergency on the southern border after months of battles with Congress over his demand for $5.7 billion to build a border wall. With the declaration, Trump announced he would shift $3.6 billion in military construction funding appropriated by Congress to the building of barriers between the United States and Mexico.

In bipartisan votes, Congress rejected the declaration as a usurpation of its power and approved a resolution terminating it. But Trump vetoed that resolution, allowing his declaration to stand. Its fate is now up to the courts hearing legal challenges to Trump’s action.

Trump accused Democrats of creating weak immigration laws, though Congress passed the laws on a bipartisan basis in the 1980s and 1990s, and demanded that Congress must change U.S. immigration laws now.

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