President Donald Trump said the border wall he says the nation needs will be ‘much more difficult’ to scale than the one members of a caravan climbed to cross over to the U.S. and seek asylum.
He made the claim days after threatening another government shutdown to get the wall funded – and after immigrants that joined a ‘caravan’ through Mexico managed to scale a high fence on the U.S.-Mexico border.
‘We need a wall, number one,’ Trump said, responding to an immigration question at a press conference Monday where he once again went after the caravan.
‘Even though it’s not a particularly good wall – a small percentage can climb that particular wall. We have a wall that’s much more difficult,’ Trump said.
TALL TALE: Migrant caravan demonstrators climb the US-Mexico border fence during a rally, on April 29, 2018, in San Ysidro, California. The US has threatened to arrest around 100 Central American migrants if they try to sneak in from the US-Mexico border where they have gathered, prompting President Donald Trump to order troop reinforcements on the frontier. Trump says his wall will be more difficult to climb
‘I’ve been watching for weeks as the caravan came up,’ Trump said of the protest of Central American immigrants that traveled north toward the U.S.
‘It started out with way over a thousand,’ and dwindled to around a hundred, he said.
‘People don’t realize what a big country Mexico is,’ the president observed.
Trump, speaking at a news conference alongside President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, also said he had nothing to apologize for in his comment about immigration, after being asked about a court ruling against his travel ban.
‘There’s no reason to apologize. Our immigration laws in this country are a total disaster,’ Trump said.
‘There’s no reason to apologize,’ Trump said of his immigration comments
At a Saturday rally in Michigan, Trump indicated he would even shut down the government if needed to get the wall built.
‘That wall has started, we have $1.6 billion. We come up again on September 28th and if we don’t get border security we will have no choice, we will close down the country because we need border security,’ Trump threatened in reference to the date when government funds run out.’
About 150 Central Americans from a “caravan” of migrants in Mexico were camped out early on Monday at the U.S. border, some trapped inside a port of entry between the two countries, as officials barred them from stepping foot on U.S. soil.
Denied passage on Sunday into a pedestrian crossing between Tijuana and San Diego at the San Ysidro port of entry, many of those who had fled El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras hoping for U.S. asylum slept in a square at the Mexican entrance.
Trump has viewed several wall prototypes
Mexican officials late on Sunday allowed a first group into the walkway, about 50 women, children and transgender people, among the “most vulnerable” of the caravan, organizers said.
But they were stopped between the Mexican and U.S. gates, where U.S. Customs and Border agents would need to ask if they feared going back to their homelands, initiating a lengthy and fraught legal process that could end in deportation or asylum.
Organizers invited women and children in the group to return to migrant shelters, but few took up the offer, partly to show their determination and partly because they did not want to forfeit their best chance yet at reaching the United States.
“I think I’m next on the list to go,” said Johanna Magaly, 37, from a patch of the square she had staked out with bags and clothes. The Guatemalan cook said she had fled a violent partner who attacked their eight-month-old son. “Especially for him,” she said, shuddering as she glanced at the infant in her arms and tightened a thick blanket around him to ward off the cold.
President Donald Trump (R) and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (L) arrive for a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House April 30, 2018 in Washington, DC
The standoff between U.S. officials and the bedraggled and exhausted migrants who had trekked 2,000 miles (3,200 km) together across Mexico was the culmination of weeks of uncertainty after U.S. President Donald Trump began lashing out at them in early April.
“We have to have borders. If we don’t have borders, we won’t have a country,” Trump said in a joint news conference on Monday with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari when asked about the caravan.
NEW HEIGHTS: Trump said the new wall will be harder to scale
Organizers said that the San Ysidro port of entry, among the largest in southern California, could hold more than 300 detained migrants. But the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has said that it was already at capacity.
In early April, the caravan comprised 1,500 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Trump complained about the caravan, ordering immigration officials to be zealous in enforcing rules to stop unlawful entry by its members.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said last week the caravan migrants should seek asylum in Mexico.
U.S. border authorities say some people associated with the caravan had already been caught trying to slip through the border fence and encouraged the rest to report to authorities. (Reporting by Delphine Schrank Editing by Dave Graham and Cynthia Osterman)