Trump threatens to deploy more troops to Mexican border

US president claims ‘colossal surge is overwhelming our immigration system’

US president Donald Trump has said he may deploy more troops to the US-Mexico border, as he visited a recently reconstructed section of the border wall in southern California on Friday.

Speaking as he visited the 30ft border structure in Calexico, Mr Trump delivered a stark message. "We have a system that's full – just full," he said. "We can't take you anymore. Turn back."

Addressing local border agent officials and Republican members of Congress, Mr Trump said that a 70-mile section in that region close to San Diego had seen a 400 per cent increase in family units arriving since October.

“It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system and we can’t let that happen,” he said. “We can’t take you. Our country is full, our area is full, the sector is full …Turn around, that’s the way it is.”


Describing the situation at the border as “an absolute emergency”, he said more than 400 miles of wall are due to be completed by the end of the year in the region.

“Part of it is that the country is doing so well, part of it is just a scam. People want to come in and they shouldn’t be coming in. There are people who are causing problems, gang members and others.”

“The asylum laws are broken, they’re totally broken. I inherited this stuff and we’re going to get it fixed.”

Threat to shut border

Mr Trump’s visit to the region took place almost a week after he threatened to shut the US-Mexico border completely.

But in recent days he has appeared to row back on that threat, hinting that he would revisit the issue in a year and instead consider imposing auto tariffs on Mexico.

His apparent change in perspective followed alarm from many Republicans and senior figures in the business community over his plan to close the border, an unprecedented move that would have severe economic and trade consequences.

Asked about his apparent about-turn as he left Washington for California, Mr Trump said: “I never changed my mind at all. I may shut [the border] down at some point, but I’d rather do tariffs. Mexico, I have to say, has been very, very good over the last four days, since I talked about shutting down the border. If they continue that, everything will be fine.

"If they don't, we're going to tariff their cars at 25 per cent coming into the United States. "

He also said he was considering an economic penalty on Mexico, “for all of the drugs that are coming in through the southern border and killing our people.

Tariffs threat

Earlier in the day he criticised the Washington Post for its coverage of his immigration policy, posting on Twitter that Mexico “for the first time in decades, is meaningfully apprehending illegals at THEIR Southern Border, before the long march up to the US. This is great and the way it should be. The big flow will stop.” He went on to threaten the country with tariffs “if for any reason Mexico stops apprehending and bringing the illegals back to where they came from.”

Mr Trump's visit to California took place against a backdrop of continuing tension between the Trump White House and Democrats in Congress over the president's decision last month to invoke a national emergency in order to tap money for his border wall.

Speaking to reporters he also addressed his surprise decision to withdraw the nomination of Ronald Vitiello to head up the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

“We’re going in a little different direction,” he said. “Ron’s a good man. But we’re going in a tougher direction. We want to go in a tougher direction.”

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent