WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump threatened on Wednesday once again to send more troops to the US-Mexico border and shut down a section of the frontier, saying that response could be needed due to a new, large caravan of mostly Central American migrants.
Trump made his latest remarks on immigration in a pair of Twitter posts.
“A very big Caravan of over 20,000 people started up through Mexico. It has been reduced in size by Mexico but is still coming. Mexico must apprehend the remainder or we will be forced to close that section of the Border & call up the Military,” Trump wrote.
The president added that Mexican soldiers “recently pulled guns” on US National Guard troops in what he said was likely a “diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border.”
“Better not happen again! We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador responded to Trump’s accusations by saying Wednesday that his country would not be drawn into any kind of spat with the US.
“What’s most important is to say that we’re not going to fight with the US government,” the leftist president said at his regular morning press conference when asked about Trump’s new threat to close the border.
He also reiterated that Mexico intends to maintain a “respectful and friendly relationship” with its neighbor to the north.
Trump said at a roundtable event two weeks ago that anecdotes he had heard from supporters about undocumented migrants dying en route to the US had convinced him of the need to reinforce the border with more troops.
But he has not yet followed through on that pledge.
Thus far, Trump has responded to last year’s arrival of several US-bound migrant caravans by deploying 6,000 troops to the US-Mexico border to assist Customs and Border Protection officers.
Their work has included repairing some existing border barriers and helping the CBP transport supplies.
Trump declared a national emergency in February with the goal of bypassing Congress and securing billions of dollars in additional funding to build a wall spanning much of the US’s border with Mexico.
Although the opposition Democrats (and some Republicans) in Congress were unable to block the emergency declaration via the legislative process, an extended legal battle is ongoing to block Trump’s wall plans.
Trump’s pledge to build a wall to put a stop to illegal immigration is considered a top priority by his core group of supporters and was a key factor in his surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election.
The president threatened in late March to shut down the US-Mexico border unless Mexico halted all illegal immigration, but on April 4 he backed off and instead gave the Aztec nation a year to stop the flow of migrants and drugs.
He told reporters then that the US would shut the frontier and impose tariffs on Mexican-made vehicles if the border problems remained after that 12-month reprieve.