Mulvaney on Closing SW Border: 'We Were Not Lying to People' When We Called It an 'Emergency'

By Susan Jones | April 1, 2019 | 6:04am EDT
A caravan of Central Americans walk from Mexico to the U.S. side of the border to ask authorities for asylum on April 29, 2018 in Tijuana, Baja California Norte, Mexico. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

( - President Trump warned again on Saturday that he will close the Southwest border if the huge migrant flows don't stop.

Trump tweeted: "Mexico must use its very strong immigration laws to stop the many thousands of people trying to get into the USA. Our detention areas are maxed out & we will take no more illegals. Next step is to close the Border! This will also help us with stopping the Drug flow from Mexico!"

On Friday, the president pointed to "two big caravans" making their way to the U.S. He said if Mexico doesn't stop them, "we're closing the border. We’ll close it, and we’ll keep it closed for a long time. I’m not playing games,” he said.

And finally, on Monday, another tweet from the president: "Democrats, working with Republicans in Congress, can fix the Asylum and other loopholes quickly. We have a major National Emergency at our Border. GET IT DONE NOW!"

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that "more than 100,000 people" will illegally cross into the United States this month alone:

If we close the borders, why would we do that? Because we need the people who are working at the legal ports of entry to go patrol -- and I'm not making this up -- where there's no wall. We were not lying to people when we said that this was an emergency. Very few people believed us, especially folks in the media and the Democrat Party. It is an emergency.

(Host Jake Tapper agreed that "it's absolutely a humanitarian crisis.")

Mulvaney complained that Congress won't fix the problem, either by giving the administration money for a border wall; or by changing U.S. law so illegal immigrants from Central America can be returned immediately to their home countries, instead of being released into the interior of the country.

"So we're going to do the best with what we have," Mulvaney said. "And if that means pulling people off the ports of entry to put them out in -- on the border where there's no wall, we will absolutely do that."

Tapper argued that cutting off aid to the Northern Triangle countries will make the migration crisis worse.

"Look, there's...a lot of good ways to help solve this problem," Mulvaney said. "Congress could do it, but they're not going to. Mexico could help us do it. They need to do a little bit more.

“Honduras could do more. Nicaragua could do more. El Salvador could do more. And if we're going to give these countries hundreds of millions of dollars, we would like them to do more.

“That, Jake, I would respectfully submit to you, is not an unreasonable position. We could prevent a lot of what's happening on the southern border by preventing people from moving into Mexico in the first place.”

Tapper said again that U.S. foreign aid to those countries makes them "more stable," according to "experts in your administration."

Mulvaney said "career staffers" may say so, but "[i]f it's working so well, why are the people still coming? Why are these historic numbers -- again, 100,000 people will cross the border this month alone. That is -- that is a crisis. It's a humanitarian crisis. It's a security crisis.

"I think at least now people are starting to realize that we were not exaggerating a couple months ago, when we had this nationwide debate about the wall. So I hear what you're saying, that people say it's working, but the proof is in the numbers. It's not working well enough to help us solve our border crisis.

"And that's what the president's focused on."

Closing the border with Mexico, a major U.S. trading partner, would cause major economic disruptions, but Mulvaney said the migrant flows also have an "effect on the American economy and the nation as a whole."

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