US President Donald Trump visited the Mexican border to deliver a message to would-be illegal immigrants and asylum seekers: don’t bother coming.
“The system is full and we can’t take you anymore… Our country is full,” he said at a meeting with border patrol officers and other officials in Calexico, California. “So turn around, that’s the way it is.”
Shortly after, Trump visited a section of recently refurbished border wall — something he wants extended across far more of the US-Mexico frontier — and said illegal immigrants had previously been “pouring” in.
The California trip followed a retreat from earlier threats to close the border, which had sparked fears of serious economic damage.
Nevertheless, Trump sees his campaign against a “crisis” on the border as key to his 2020 reelection bid, and his time in Calexico was meant to keep that message in the headlines.
Around 200 protesters, accompanied by a giant inflatable balloon depicting Trump as a baby, were waiting for the president in Mexicali, the town on the Mexican side of the frontier.
Waving US and Mexican flags, the protesters carried signs with messages such as “Stop separating families” and “If you build the wall, my generation will tear it down.”
On the US side, dozens of people lined the road that Trump’s motorcade took, demonstrating support for his policies. “Build the wall,” said one placard.
Trump reiterated that actually closing the border is not currently in the cards, but said he will instead impose 25 percent tariffs on auto imports from Mexico if illegal migration and drug smuggling are not controlled.
Trump also said he could still order the border closed later. “I may shut it down at some point but I’d rather do tariffs,” he said.
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