As the rift continues to grow between U.S. President Donald Trump and the Mexican government over the flow of migrants across the countries’ shared border, President Trump announced on Friday he was considering the “nuclear option” of closing the border altogether. According to a report from Reuters, the move follows accounts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—part of the larger Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—being inundated with migrants crossing the border, which has placed incredible demands on the agency. Officials from CBP say nearly 100,000 people have been arrested trying to cross the U.S.’s southern border illegally in March alone.
“There’s a very good likelihood that I’ll be closing the border next week, and that will be just fine with me,” President Trump said on Friday while speaking to members of the press.
President Trump: “Massive caravans walking right through Mexico. So Mexico’s tough. They can stop them but they chose not to. Now they’re going to stop them. And if they don’t stop them, we’re closing the border. We’ll keep it closed for a long time, I’m not playing games.” pic.twitter.com/xOZI1e6Oe9
— The Hill (@thehill) March 29, 2019
Many of those trying to enter the U.S. through the southern border originated from Central America, and are hoping to reach asylum in the U.S. due to adverse conditions in their country of origin. As the number of people attempting to cross the U.S-Mexico border has increased, CBP is planning on pulling more than 700 agents from entry points to assist the teams handling the waves of asylum seekers.
The president has been critical of the Mexican government’s response to the migrants moving through Mexico toward the U.S. He’s called on the Mexican government to do more to prevent them from reaching the border en masse. According to a report from the Associated Press, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told reporters the agency might be forced to ask for “volunteers from other agencies” to assist the overwhelmed CBP agents.
“If we have to close ports to take care of all of the numbers who are coming, we will do that,” said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to the AP. “So it’s on the table, but what we’re doing is a very structured process based on operational needs.”
Closing the border would effectively halt all trade between the two North American countries. Some fear a border closure might drive Mexican companies to seek trading partners in other parts of the world.
“I think the impact would be absolutely devastating on so many fronts,” said Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Alejandra Mier y Teran while speaking to reporters from the AP. The San Diego-based Mier y Teran also stated that closing the border is “sending out a message to other countries that, ‘Don’t come because our borders may not work at any time.’ That is extremely scary and dangerous.”
Not everyone opposes the president’s plan. Several political personalities took to Twitter to voice their support for the move, with some claiming closing the border is the “only solution at this point” and that the situation is “getting out of hand.”
BREAKING: President Trump considering CLOSING The Southern Border…
RAISE your hand if you SUPPORT this move… 🙋🏻♂️https://t.co/9aAUvbbwCx
— Chuck Callesto (@ChuckCallesto) March 28, 2019