President Donald Trump threatened to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico doesn’t stop people and drugs from flowing into the U.S. from Central America.
“They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. Need Wall!” Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter before arriving at church for an Easter Sunday service with his wife, Melania.
In a series of posts, Trump also suggested he was no longer willing to strike a deal to help immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as minors, and repeated a call for Senate Republicans to go to a simple 51-vote majority vote to pass legislation more easily.
“Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release,” Trump wrote. “Getting more dangerous. ‘Caravans’ coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!”
Trump posted his comments after Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union representing border patrol agents, talked about reports that a caravan of hundreds of Central Americans was headed toward the U.S. in a bid to secure asylum.
Judd, on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” said the immigrants seeking asylum would “create havoc and chaos” while in the U.S. awaiting hearings on their refugee status.
Under current immigration policies, asylum seekers that prove a “credible fear” of returning home may be released while they await adjudication if they don’t present a security or flight risk. Those detained after crossing the border are also sometimes released because of bed shortages and a court ruling that limits the detention of women and children in custody to 21 days.
Trump went on to say those crossing the border “are all trying to take advantage of DACA.”
“They want in on the act!” he wrote.
Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, those eligible for protected status must have lived continuously in the U.S. since 2007 and entered the country before their 16th birthday.
In September, the White House rescinded the program, which protected immigrants from deportation. Trump gave lawmakers until March to find a legislative solution for the DACA beneficiaries.
Lawmakers were unable to strike a bargain, with the White House insisting any deal also include new restrictions on legal immigration and funding for the president’s border wall. Democrats rejected an offer as part of the omnibus spending bill that would have given the president funding for his wall in exchange for a short-term extension of DACA. A federal judge in January issued an injunction keeping the program in place as courts consider legal challenges to the president’s attempt to end DACA.
Trump’s call to eliminate the filibuster, which he blames for elements of his policy agenda stalling in Congress, is the latest in a series of complaints about the restriction. In September, Trump complained “the Senate Filibuster Rule will never allow Republicans to pass even great legislation” because Republicans “will rarely get 60” votes. In August, he said Republicans “are just wasting time” if they maintain the filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said repeatedly he wouldn’t move to get rid of the 60-vote threshold.
Trump said Mexico was doing “very little, if not NOTHING” to stop the flow of immigrants across its southern border, and ultimately into the U.S. “They laugh at our dumb immigration laws.”’
Mexican government officials did not respond to requests for comment.
The president gave notice of his intent to renegotiate NAFTA in May, and has repeatedly threatened to pull out of the agreement if terms are not renegotiated to his liking. While such action could be blocked by legal challenges and Congress, leaving NAFTA could badly hurt Mexico’s economy, which in 2016 sent 73.3 percent of its exports to the U.S.
© 2018 Bloomberg News
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