0731 GMT May 23, 2019
Referring to a “colossal surge” of immigrants, Trump convened a discussion with immigration officials and local leaders in Calexico on the US-Mexico border just north of the much larger city of Mexicali, Reuters reported.
Before touring a just completed 30-foot (nine-meter) tall, 2.2-mile (3.5-kilometer) barrier at Calexico, Trump said more US military resources will be dispatched to the border.
“Our country is full,” Trump said in a warning to migrants. “Can’t take you anymore.
The Republican president’s latest pronouncements, including a threat to impose auto tariffs on Mexico, are in response to a rising number of migrants, many of them families with children, travelling northward from Central America through Mexico and to the US border.
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite of the US Army Corps of Engineers said that by the end of next year – just after the November 2020 presidential election – about 450 miles (725 km) of new barrier will be completed. Border officials have said they need 722 miles (1,162 kilometers) of new or replacement barriers.
Trump is counting on seizing funds from other federal accounts and shifting them for the construction, a move being challenged in federal court because Congress has not given approval. Democrats generally oppose Trump’s wall proposal, suggesting instead other types of enhanced border security that they argue would be more effective and less costly.
Hammering on a favorite theme, Trump earlier on Friday said he was considering imposing an unspecified economic penalty on Mexico unless it helps alleviate the United States’ drug and immigrant flows.
Although Trump has several times linked the issues of illegal immigration and drug smuggling as he tries to tighten border security, much of the drug trade is not carried out by migrants but by professional crime gangs that send narcotics to the United States in vehicles through official ports of entry.
Praising Mexico for moving recently against drug traffickers, Trump said, “If they continue that, everything will be fine. If they don’t we’re going to tariff their cars at 25 percent.”
“Also, I’m looking at an economic penalty for all of the drugs that are coming in through the southern border and killing our people,” Trump told reporters in Washington before departing for southern California.
Trump said the drug-related tariff would supplant provisions of a trade deal, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as USMCA, which has not been approved by Congress.
In recent days, Mexico has taken a more rigorous approach to interviewing and registering immigrants from Central America, Haiti and Cuba, according to officials.
Meanwhile, 20 states have filed a motion to block Trump’s attempts to divert federal funds through an emergency declaration, New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said on Friday. The US House of Representatives on Friday also filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s ability to seize the funds, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a Democrat, said.