President Donald Trump renews threat to close U.S.-Mexico border
"Mexico is doing NOTHING to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our Country. They are all talk and no action," Trump said in a tweet. "Likewise, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have taken our money for years, and do Nothing."
"May close the Southern Border!" he wrote.
The remarks stood in sharp contrast with those of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who thanked Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on Thursday for their efforts to help the United States secure the border.
"America shares common cause with the countries of Central America in confronting these challenges," Nielsen said in a statement.
"We all want to enforce our laws, ensure a safe and orderly migrant flow, protect our communities, facilitate legal trade and travel, support vulnerable populations, interdict dangerous and illicit drug flow, and secure our borders," she added.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rejected Trump's criticism on Thursday.
"We respect President Trump's position, and we are going to help," Lopez Obrador told reporters. "This is a problem of the United States, or it's a problem of the Central American countries. It's not up to us Mexicans, no."
Trump is expected to address the issue of illegal immigration when he hosts a campaign rally in Grand Rapids, state of Michigan later Thursday.
The last time Trump threatened to seal the southern border was late last year, when the White House and Congressional Democrats couldn't reach an agreement over his demand for billions of U.S. dollars in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a plank of his 2016 presidential campaign.
Democrats refused to give what Trump had required, arguing that president was exaggerating the situation on the border for political gains while calling the proposed border wall costly and unnecessary. Trump retaliated by declining to sign spending bills, resulting in a record-breaking 35-day partial government shutdown, which ended in January.
To acquire access to money for building the wall, Trump declared a national emergency in mid-February, a move that has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats and raised concerns among Republicans.
The U.S. House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, failed earlier this week to override Trump's veto of a congressional resolution blocking his national emergency declaration. ■