Trump threatens to close southern border next week, voicing heightened frustration with Mexico
WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump said Friday that he would close large sections of the southern border next week if Mexico does not halt illegal immigration into the United States, repeating a threat he has made before but never with a specific timetable.
In a series of tweets, Trump did not spell out what a border closing would entail but blamed Mexico for what he characterized as a steady flow of "illegals" and drugs entering the United States.
"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," Trump wrote. "This would be so easy for Mexico to do, but they just take our money and 'talk.'"
Trump's tweet came two days after the nation's top border official warned that the U.S. immigration enforcement system along the nation's southern boundary is at "the breaking point" and said that authorities are having to release migrants into the country after background checks because of a crush of asylum-seeking families with children.
Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said that for the first time in more than a decade, his agency is "reluctantly" performing direct releases of migrants, meaning they are not turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they are not detained, they are not given ankle bracelets to track their movements and they are allowed to leave with just a notice to appear in court at a later date.
Trump made a similar threat Thursday about closing the border, saying Mexico was "all talk and no action," but did not make it sound as if action was imminent. "May close the Southern Border!" he wrote then.
Trump has threatened to close the border several times before but not followed through.
In November, in the heat of a battle with Congress over funding for his long-promised border wall, Trump wrote on Twitter that "we will close the Border permanently if need be."
Trump has since declared a national emergency at the border as a way to spend more on barriers than Congress has authorized.
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The Washington Post's Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti contributed to this report.