President Donald Trump doubled down on his criticism of the U.S. immigration system on Friday during the seventh day of the partial government shutdown that is affecting over 800,000 federal employees. The commander in chief’s demand for $5 billion for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border may be sitting in a bill passed by the Republican-led House last week, but Congress is not set to deliberate on a funding package until the beginning of next year.
As the stalemate in Washington between the White House and lawmakers continues, Trump said that he is looking at not just leaving the government shutdown in place, but may also close the entire southern border.
“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with,” President Trump said on Twitter.
Although trade on the North American continent is now governed by the newly-implemented U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) signed into law by President Trump and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts, he went back on social media to criticize former U.S. trade relations with Mexico. He said that the failure of the recently-replaced North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) lead to the U.S. losing “75 billion” a year in trade deficits. He added that he would consider closing the border, which, to him, looks like a “profit making operation.”
“Bring our car industry back into the United States where it belongs. Go back to pre-NAFTA, before so many of our companies and jobs were so foolishly sent to Mexico. Either we build (finish) the Wall or we close the Border,” Trump added.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney appeared on the “Fox and Friends” morning show Friday and was asked if President Trump is serious about potentially closing the border to stave off illegal immigration.
“Yes, I think he is,” Mulvaney replied.
“[Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer voted for border security in 2006, he voted for it again…in 2011. It seems like Democrats really like border security when there’s a Democrat in office and don’t like it when Donald Trump is in office,” he explained.
The chief of staff said that during a meeting last week with the the president, Senate minority leader, Vice President Mike Pence, and others, a deal may have been had after some ground was gained over funding discrepancies. However, “the more we’re hearing,” Mulvaney added, “[House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi is preventing that from happening.
Amid news that a new migrant caravan is forming in Honduras following two previous instances in 2018, President Trump has also threatened to cut foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, accusing the Central American countries on Twitter of “doing nothing for the United States but taking our money.”
Reducing foreign aid to the countries would require congressional approval through the appropriations process. Though, with Democrats regaining the majority in the House on January 3, that is highly unlikely to happen.