The President has made securing the U.S.-Mexico border a priority agenda item during his campaign and presidency. He has been actively trying to secure funding for a border wall, although he has faced resistance.
"Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border! If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close. This is a National Emergency!"
Donald J. TrumpVerified account @realDonaldTrump Apr 2
"After many years (decades), Mexico is apprehending large numbers of people at their Southern Border, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. They have ALL been taking U.S. money for years, and doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for us, just like the Democrats in Congress!"
On Thursday, the President tried a different tact, demanding Mexico take greater steps to secure the border, and called on them to reduce the amount of drugs and migrants coming to America.
An article from The Washington Post cited the President as threatening to levy tariffs against Mexico if action isn’t taken. "We’re going to give them a one-year warning, and if the drugs don’t stop or largely stop, we’re going to put tariffs on Mexico and products, particularly cars. . . . And if that doesn’t stop the drugs, we close the border," he said, according to the article.
Congress Responds with Condemning Resolution
Reps. Henry Cuellar and Veronica Escobar of Texas have introduced H.R. 287 (PDF) condemning Trump’s “recent threat” to close the southern border.
“Any potential closure of the border would cause extensive economic harm to U.S. markets and sever the bilateral trade relationship between the two countries. Every day, both the U.S. and Mexico work cooperatively to secure the shared border and facilitate the efficient flow of goods and tourism, while curtailing the illicit flow of drugs, people, arms, and cash at ports of entry,” according to a statement from Cuellar’s office. “These operations serve as the backbone of bilateral interconnectedness—closing down any one of the ports of entry, let alone the whole border, would have a myriad of unintended and irreparable economic, diplomatic, cultural, and humanitarian consequences.”
Cuellar said shutting down the border would be “disastrous” as the U.S. depends on Mexico for 60% of its produce, and the closure would hamper both the tourism industry and labor force. Escobar also took a shot at the President’s immigration policies, including the withholding of “economic aid.”
“President Trump’s reckless behavior is a true national crisis. Shutting down the border will absolutely devastate our economy; continuing to withhold aid to Central America will only increase the number of refugees at our doorstep; and, the cruelty of his approach to asylum-seeking families in pursuit of the American Dream is a violation of human rights and only makes a challenge much worse,” said Escobar in a statement.
ABA Takes a Stand Against New Immigration Laws
In a separate immigration policy, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen has proposed changes to expedite the deportation of unaccompanied minors looking for asylum as well as detention policies for their families while proceedings are pending, according to information from The American Bar Association (ABA). The ABA has come out in strong opposition to these policies.
“Our nation places a high priority on the welfare of children, and the government should not undercut the rights of asylum-seeking children–particularly unaccompanied children–to consult with legal counsel and to be heard by an immigration judge,” reads a statement from the organization. “The ABA opposes the detention of immigrants and asylum-seekers except in cases of flight risk or danger to the community. The use of cost-effective and humane alternatives, such as family case management, has been effective to ensure families appear for their immigration court hearings.”
Nielsen also requested additional funding, resources and personnel to address humanitarian needs for asylum seekers and immigrants, which drew support from the legal trade group. “The American Bar Association has long supported efforts to hire more immigration judges and court staff to address the crippling backlog in our nation’s immigration courts. We also support greater resources for asylum offices and law enforcement, to provide a safe environment and fair proceedings for all asylum-seekers, particularly children,” the statement reads.