Trump threatens to close U.S. southern border if Congress doesn't fund wall
U.S. president also renews pledge to cut aid to Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador
President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to close the U.S. southern border if Congress does not agree to provide $5 billion US in taxpayer funds for his promised wall along the border with Mexico.
Trump was in the White House firing off angry tweets while large parts of the federal government are shut down for lack of funding in a dispute over the proposed wall and Congress is adjourned until next week.
"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," Trump said on Twitter.
"Either we build (finish) the Wall or we close the 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. Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!—@realDonaldTrump
The Republican president also reiterated threats to cut off all U.S. aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which he said were not doing anything to stop the flow of migrants toward the United States.
.....Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money. Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries - taking advantage of U.S. for years!—@realDonaldTrump
Asked about Trump's border-closing threat, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters it was an internal U.S. government matter. "We take great care of the relationship with the government of the United States," Lopez Obrador said.
"Of course we will always defend our sovereignty … we will always protect migrants, defend their human rights," he said.
Trump campaigned on a promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, not the U.S.
Poll: Americans blame Trump
A spokesperson for U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday that Republicans and Democrats were still far apart in efforts to resolve the shutdown, which started on Saturday. Democrats have offered support for $1.3 billion in funding for general border security, but have long opposed the building of a wall.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday, 47 per cent of Americans hold Trump responsible for the shutdown, while 33 per cent blame Democrats in Congress.
In television interviews on Friday, Trump aides sought to put the blame for the continuing shutdown on the unwillingness of Democrats to make a deal, singling out Nancy Pelosi who is set to become the House of Representatives Speaker next week after Democrats won a majority in the chamber in November elections.
"Nancy Pelosi is only looking to protect her speakership but not protect our borders and that's why she's unwilling to negotiate with us and unwilling to make any type of a deal and unwilling to help do what is necessary," White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on CBS This Morning.
Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, told Fox News Channel: "Where is Chuck Schumer? Where is Nancy Pelosi? They're not even talking right now."
Mulvaney said Trump, who scrapped plans to spend Christmas in his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and stayed in Washington because of the partial shutdown, has also cancelled his New Year's plans.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen planned to visit the border city of El Paso, Texas, later today following the death of a second migrant child in detention. She is scheduled to tour multiple stations and substations operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Nielsen was also scheduled to meet with emergency medical technicians and medical professionals, as well as local officials.