US President Donald Trump has threatened to close the US border with Mexico for an undisclosed period of time if his administration determines that its southern ally has lost “control” on its side.
The threat, which came on Thursday is in response to over three thousand migrants and refugees arriving in Mexico’s border town of Tijuana, all hoping to apply for asylum in the U.S. More are reportedly on the way.
"If we find that it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or where people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control," he told reporters.
"The whole border. I mean the whole border. Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many cars," he added.
The town of Tijuana hosts the largest border crossing between Mexico and U.S.
Trump also said he has given the freshly deployed active-duty troops to the border, the “OK” to use lethal force against migrants “if they have to.” While authorizing the military’s use of lethal force along the border, Trump said, “I hope they don’t have to,” adding that he would not let ‘the military be taken advantage of. I have no choice.’
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday that the White House had given him explicit authority to use military troops to protect Customs and Border Protection personnel at the southwest border, with lethal force if necessary. But he said the military would remain within its legal limits.
Trump made the comments in a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with reporters at his Florida golf club after he conveyed holiday wishes in a telephone call with members of the American military serving around the world.
Trump’s threat to shut down the border crossing came days after a federal judge ruled that his administration’s asylum policy – which banned illegal immigrants from applying for asylum, on hold. Under the new policy, no one could apply for asylum into the U.S. except at an official border entry point.