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Donald Trump says he will close the Mexico border permanently if needed

Trump made similar threats in October ahead of the midterm elections, warning that an approaching “caravan” of migrants posed a risk to US security and claiming without evidence that criminals were among the group.

world Updated: Nov 26, 2018 21:49 IST
Terrence Dopp  and Laura Curtis
Terrence Dopp and Laura Curtis
Bloomberg, Washington and Washington
US-Mexico border,Donald trump,Immigrants
US President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.(REUTERS)

President Donald Trump said the U.S. will close its southern border with Mexico if needed, a day after U.S. agents shot several rounds of tear gas at migrants, some of whom tried to breach a border fence.

“Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries,” Trump said Monday on Twitter. “Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be.”

Trump made similar threats in October ahead of the midterm elections, warning that an approaching “caravan” of migrants posed a risk to US security and claiming without evidence that criminals were among the group. So far, he hasn’t followed through on those threats.

Details of any potential closing of the 1,954-mile (3,145 kilometer) border aren’t yet clear. Mexico is the third-largest American goods trading partner with $557.6 billion in two-way trade during 2017, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative. Trade in services accounted for another $58 billion.

The Mexican peso fell as much as 0.3 percent after Trump’s tweet, weakening to as low as 20.4624 per dollar, before rebounding Monday.

US border officials on Sunday temporarily closed the San Ysidro port of entry between Tijuana and San Diego, one of the busiest border crossings in the world, “to ensure public safety’ after agents shot several rounds of tear gas at migrants, leaving children screaming and coughing, the Associated Press reported.

Agents arrested 42 migrants on the US side after they breached the border, Rodney Scott, chief patrol agent for the US Border Patrol’s San Diego sector, told CNN on Monday. Protesters threw rocks at agents, Scott said, defending his agency’s use of tear gas on the group, which he described as mostly male.

“What I saw on the border yesterday was not people walking up to border control agents and asking to seek asylum,” Scott said.

An estimated 8,200 migrants from the so-called caravans heading to the US from Central America are now in Mexico, authorities say. Trump has vowed to shut down the southern border with lethal force if necessary, and is calling on Mexico to intervene.

Immigration -- an issue Trump has relied on to rev up his base -- has proved legislatively thorny. Democrats and even some lawmakers in Trump’s own party have resisted his calls to fund his proposed border wall.

Trump wants migrants to remain in Mexico while their US asylum cases are adjudicated. Olga Sánchez Cordero, Mexico’s incoming interior minister, as well as a spokesman for incoming President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, have said Mexico won’t accept that proposal.

First Published: Nov 26, 2018 21:49 IST