Trump threatens to close southern US border over wall funding

Dec 28, 2018, 6:38 AM

PHOENIX — As a partial government shutdown stretches into another day with no end in sight, President Donald Trump threatened Friday to close the southern U.S. border with Mexico over wall funding.

In a series of tweets, Trump said he would close the border “entirely” if Democrats “do not give us the money to finish the Wall (sic) and also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country (sic) is saddled with.”

In another tweet, Trump claimed the U.S. loses more than $75 billion a year from trading with Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement and argued that closing the border would be a “profit making operation.”

Trump also said the U.S. would cut off all aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador for “taking advantage of (the) U.S. for years!”

Congress is closing out the week without a resolution in sight over the issue holding up an agreement — Trump’s demand for money to build a border wall with Mexico and Democrats’ refusal to give him what he wants.

That sets up a struggle upfront when Democrats take control of the House on Jan. 3. Trump has signaled he welcomes the fight as he heads toward his own bid for re-election in 2020.

With another long holiday weekend coming, just days before House Republicans relinquish control, there is little expectation of a quick fix. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has vowed to pass legislation as soon as she takes the gavel, which is expected when the new Congress convenes, to reopen the 15 shuttered departments and dozens of agencies now hit by the partial shutdown.

“If they can’t do it before Jan. 3, then we will do it,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., incoming chairman of the Rules Committee. “We’re going to do the responsible thing. We’re going to behave like adults and do our job.”

But even that may be difficult without a compromise because the Senate will remain in Republican hands and Trump’s signature will be needed to turn any bill into law. Negotiations continue between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, but there’s only so much Congress can do without the president.

Trump is not budging, having panned Democratic offers to keep money at current levels — $1.3 billion for border fencing, but not the wall. Senate Republicans approved that compromise in an earlier bill with Democrats but now say they won’t be voting on any more unless something is agreed to by all sides, including Trump.

Trump has threatened to close the border in October and November over a caravan of about 4,000 people from Central America who were traveling to the border.

Glenn Hamer, president with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told KTAR News 92.3 FM in November that if the border were to close, it would do major damage to Arizona’s economy.

“Trade with Mexico has an enormous effect on Arizona’s economy,” Hamer said. “It would be catastrophic to the Arizona economy if the border was shut down.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Trump threatens to close southern US border over wall funding