WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to close the U.S. southern border if Congress does not agree to provide $5 billion in taxpayer funds for his promised wall along the border with Mexico.
FILE PHOTO: The San Ysidro border crossing between the U.S and Mexico is closed to prevent a caravan of thousands traveling from Central America from crossing, in Tijuana, Mexico November 25, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
With large parts of the federal government shut down for lack of funding in a dispute over the proposed wall and Congress adjourned until next week, Trump was in the White House firing off angry tweets.
“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 said.
“Either we build (finish) the Wall or we close the Border,” he added.
The Republican president also reiterated threats to cut off all U.S. aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, which he said were not doing anything to stop the flow of migrants toward the United States.
A spokesman for U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday that Republicans and Democrats were still very far apart in efforts to resolve the shutdown, which started on Saturday. Democrats have offered support for $1.3 billion in funding for general border security, but have long opposed the building of a wall.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday, 47 percent of Americans hold Trump responsible for the shutdown, while 33 percent blame Democrats in Congress.
In television interviews on Friday, Trump aides sought to put the blame for the continuing shutdown on the unwillingness of Democrats to make a deal, singling out Nancy Pelosi who is set to become the House of Representatives speaker next week after Democrats won a majority in the chamber in November elections.
“Nancy Pelosi is only looking to protect her speakership but not protect our borders and that’s why she’s unwilling to negotiate with us and unwilling to make any type of a deal and unwilling to help do what is necessary,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on the CBS “This Morning” program.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News Channel: “Where is Chuck Schumer? Where is Nancy Pelosi? They’re not even talking right now.”
Mulvaney said Trump, who scrapped plans to spend Christmas in his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and stayed in Washington because of the shutdown, had now also canceled his New Year’s plans.
Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Frances Kerry