President Donald Trump speaks before awarding the Medal of Honor to Army Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins with Atkins’ son Trevor Oliver, 22, accepting the posthumous recognition for conspicuous gallantry in Iraq in June 2007, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday March 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Trump lashes out at Central America, Mexico on border

Arrests along the Mexican border jumped to 66,450 in February, up 149 per cent from a year earlier

President Donald Trump on Thursday accused Mexican and Central American leaders of doing “nothing” to prevent illegal immigrants from coming to the United States — one day after his administration signed an agreement with some of those same leaders aimed at reducing the number of migrants streaming north.

Trump’s tweet risked undermining his administration’s diplomatic efforts on immigration, and came as Mexico said it planned to set up a “containment belt” of federal forces to stem an increasing flow of Central American migrants.

“Mexico is doing NOTHING to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our Country,” he tweeted. “They are all talk and no action. Likewise, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have taken our money for years, and do Nothing.”

Trump also suggested he’d shut the U.S.-Mexico border — a threat he’s floated before — as U.S. border officials stressed immigration enforcement is at the breaking point.

Trump’s remarks stood in contrast with those of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who expressed gratitude for the collaboration among regional leaders in addressing border problems. She met with Mexican officials and travelled to Honduras this week to meet with leaders of that country, Guatemala and El Salvador. The U.S. and Central American officials signed a border security compact Wednesday that aims to expand intelligence sharing, address human trafficking and combat transnational gangs.

“America shares common cause with the countries of Central America in confronting these challenges,” she said in a tweet Thursday, adding that all the countries were working toward the same goal. “Together we will prevail.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday acknowledged that migrants were increasingly coming north, “because there are no options, no alternatives in Central America.”

Lopez Obrador said Mexico is doing its part to fight immigrant smuggling. “We are going to do everything we can to help. We don’t in any way want a confrontation with the U.S. government.”

He said Mexico was going to maintain a “very respectful relationship” with the U.S. government and Trump, adding that the U.S. concerns were legitimate.

For Trump, the tweet was a return to a signature policy and one that plays deeply to his base, wedged between victory tweets following the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Mueller’s team found no evidence that Trump’s campaign “conspired or co-ordinated” with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, according to a summary by Attorney General William Barr. The report reached no conclusion on whether Trump obstructed justice.

While overall arrests at the border are still well below highs of the early 2000s, the U.S. is facing a surge of Central American families who ask for asylum and who cannot be easily returned, straining the system, creating a huge backlog in cases, and overwhelming border facilities not set up to manage so many children and families.

READ MORE: Speeding West Virginia motorist threatens to kill Trump, blow up Pentagon

Arrests along the Mexican border jumped to 66,450 in February, up 149 per cent from a year earlier. March is shaping up to be even busier. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the agency was on track to make 100,000 arrests or denials of entry during the month, up about 30 per cent from February and about double the same period last year. About 55,000 people will have arrived as families, including 40,000 children.

The border agency temporarily reassigned several hundred border inspectors to process migrants, provide transportation and perform hospital watches to keep pace.

“That breaking point has arrived this week,” McAleenan said Wednesday in El Paso. “CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border.”

Mexico has already allowed the U.S. to return some migrants to Mexico to wait as their asylum cases play out. And Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero said the government would try to contain migrants heading north at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the narrowest part of the country’s south and the easiest to control.

“It’s going to be a big change,” she said.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Trump has spent months clashing with lawmakers over his long-promised border wall and the fight included questions from Democrats on whether there actually was a “crisis” at the border.

That conflict escalated last month when Trump declared a national emergency to obtain billions in additional dollars for construction. The move drew bipartisan criticism that the president was seeking to improperly circumvent lawmakers and prompted Congress to pass a resolution opposing the move. But Trump vetoed the resolution and the Democratic-led House lacked the votes to override.

___

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey in Washington and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Colleen Long, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs rally for the win with five goals in third period

Port Alberni team has won two games in a row at home

Forestry watchdog warned B.C. government about Bamfield Road in 2008

Ombudsman’s specific concerns re-surface in wake of fatal bus crash

Swedish visitors celebrate steam donkey at McLean Mill—without the steam

Volunteers celebrate 90th birthday of mill’s vintage steam donkey

Bus crash survivor petitions Justin Trudeau to fix road where classmates died

UVic student’s petition well over halfway to 5k signature goal

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Horvat paces Canucks to 6-1 pre-season win over Oilers

Vancouver improves to 3-1 in NHL exhibition action

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

Island contestant competes on Great Canadian Baking Show

Andrea Nauta auditioned for the show before but was lucky second time around

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

Teens charged in stabbing death of B.C. man in strip mall parking lot

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo

Most Read