Donald Trump delivers ultimatum to Congress: Immigration deal or border closure
President Trump delivered an ultimatum to Congress Tuesday on immigration, saying either lawmakers come to a deal to stop the surge of migrants or “the border’s going to be closed, 100 percent.”
Mr. Trump also said he’s willing to take an economic hit from such a closure.
“Security is more important to me than trade,” he told reporters in the Oval Office.
He also suggested that the Central American countries whose citizens are surging north through Mexico to reach the U.S. have been complicit with the smugglers recruiting and transporting people.
“They arrange these caravans, and they don’t put their best people in those caravans,” he said. “We’re not going to have it anymore.”
Mr. Trump said he has seen some encouraging signs from Mexico, which he said is arresting more migrants.
But he said he’s still ready to call for sealing the legal border crossings unless he sees results from Mexico and from Capitol Hill.
“If we don’t make a deal with Congress, the border’s going to be closed. 100 percent,” the president said.
He didn’t elaborate on what such a closure would entail.
Both Democrats and Republicans dismissed Mr. Trump’s talk.
“The economic disaster to the country would be huge,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat. “My guess is cooler heads will prevail upon the president not to do it. It would be a disaster for him, and for the country.”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also warned Mr. Trump against the move, warning of severe economic consequences.
Business groups also chimed in, warning that the U.S. does $1.7 billion in trade each day with Mexico.
“Even threatening to close the border to legitimate commerce and travel creates a degree of economic uncertainty that risks compromising the very gains in growth and productivity that policies of the Trump administration have helped achieve,” said Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president and chief policy officer.
Dave Boyer contributed to this article.