Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, defended President Donald Trump’s threat to end assistance to three Central American countries and to close parts of the United States border with Mexico next week, saying on Sunday that it would take “something dramatic” to prevent Trump from carrying out that plan, The New York Times informs.
“Why are we talking about closing the border? Not to try and undo what’s happening, but simply to say, ‘look we need the people from the ports of entry to go out and patrol in the desert where we don’t have a wall,” Mulvaney said.
Trump’s attempt to seal off the border by building a wall, and mulling the closure of ports to tamp down on immigration and drug smuggling, is at odds with a nagging reality: Smuggling activity largely comes through ports of entry, according to government data. And the President’s move to cut off aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador ignores a longstanding strategy touted by aid groups and military experts, including the President’s former chief of staff , that supporting those countries actually makes the border safer.
Still, Trump spent the week emboldened by the results of his attorney general’s summary of a report by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, that said that he and his campaign had not cooperated with the Russian government. The President immediately turned back to immigration as a red-meat issue for supporters ahead of the 2020 election, the Times added.
“I’m not playing games,” he told reporters during a weekend in Florida, which followed a week spent berating the Democratic Party for what he called lax immigration laws, assailing countries he has accused of doing little to stop the flow of migrant traveling north, and disparaging individual travelers seeking asylum as part of a “big fat con job.”
In the interview, Mulvaney criticized Jeh Johnson, who led the Department of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama, for saying in an interview last week that the situation at the border was “truly in a crisis.” Last month, 76,000 migrants were apprehended crossing the border, and the crossings are expected to increase again this month.
“We hate to say we told you so. We need border security, and we’re going to do the best we can with what we have,” Mulvaney pointed out.
Meanwhile, Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Sunday the border was at “melting point” and said Trump’s threat “certainly is not a bluff. You can take the president seriously,” Guardian informs.
Speaking to NBC’s Meet the Press, the Illinois Democratic senator Dick Durbin suggested Conway was bluffing herself, saying a border closure was a “totally unrealistic” aim.
“What we need to do,” Durbin said, “is focus on what’s happening in Central America, where three countries are disassembling before our eyes and people are desperately coming to the United States. The President’s cutting off aid to these countries will not solve that problem.”
In recent weeks, Border Patrol facilities along the southwestern border have been strained to a breaking point by the largest influx of migrants in years. The numbers are growing, in part, because travelers are hoping to make the journey north before summertime. Officials in El Paso resorted to creating a makeshift encampment under a bridge last week when the main border processing facility in the area was strained to 400 percent of its capacity.