Sunday, April 21, 2024

Trump threatens to close border over wall funding, ‘go back to pre-NAFTA’

United States President Donald Trump threatened today to close the border with Mexico if the U.S. Congress doesn’t approve billions of dollars in funding to build his long-promised wall.

“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with . . .” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The threat comes amid a partial government shutdown in the United States which has now entered its seventh day.

Trump wants US $5 billion to build the wall he has promised since he was seeking the Republican Party nomination to contest the 2016 presidential election.

In the second and third posts in a string of early-morning tweets, the U.S. president framed his border closure threat within the context of NAFTA, the 25-year-old trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada which was updated this year following a drawn-out and contentious negotiation.

“The United States looses soooo much money on Trade with Mexico under NAFTA, over 75 billion Dollars a year (not including Drug Money which would be many times that amount), that I would consider closing the Southern Border a ‘profit-making operation,’” Trump wrote.

“We build a Wall or close the Southern Border. Bring our car industry back into the United States where it belongs. Go back to pre-NAFTA, before so many of our companies and jobs were so foolishly sent to Mexico. Either we build (finish) the Wall or we close the Border . . .” he continued.

In a fourth tweet, Trump said the United States government would cut off aid to the three Central American countries whose citizens have made up the vast majority of members of the migrant caravans that have traveled through Mexico to the U.S. border in recent months.

“Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money. Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries — taking advantage of U.S. for years!” he wrote.

Trump has railed frequently against the migrant caravans, portraying their arrival at the United States southern border as an “invasion.”

When a group of around 500 migrants rushed the border between Tijuana and San Diego on November 25, United States border agents fired tear gas and rubber bullets at them and the San Ysidro border crossing was closed for almost six hours.

Trump warned the day after the incident that the border could be shut permanently.

In spite of the contentious migration issue and their position on opposite sides of the political spectrum, the relationship between President López Obrador and Trump has been mostly cordial.

The two leaders spoke by telephone earlier this month to discuss migration and job creation in Mexico and Central America and less than a week later the governments of Mexico and the United States announced they had reached an agreement to work together on a development plan to curb migration.

At his early-morning press conference today, López Obrador refused to be drawn on Trump’s latest tweets regarding the border wall, stating “we have not offered an opinion on this issue because it’s an internal matter of the United States government and we prefer to abstain.”

He added that the Mexican government “seeks to always maintain a good relationship with the United States government,” explaining that “we don’t want to be imprudent.”

Source: AFP (sp), El Universal (sp)

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