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'They're Drowning': Trump Threatens to Close the Border as El Paso Crisis Deepens

03-29-2019
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Central American migrants wait for food in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in a pen erected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to process a surge of migrant families and unaccompanied minors. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

With a border crisis spiraling out of control, President Trump issued an ultimatum Friday to Mexico and to Democrats in Congress.

"CONGRESS MUST CHANGE OUR WEAK IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW, & Mexico must stop illegals from entering the U.S. through their country and our Southern Border," Trump tweeted.

"If Mexico doesn't immediately stop ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States through our Southern Border, I will be CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border, next week," he continued.


Central American migrants wait for food in El Paso, Texas, Wednesday, March 27, 2019, in a pen erected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to process a surge of migrant families and unaccompanied minors.  (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

Authorities say using terms like "crisis" and "emergency" are not an overstatement of the problems at the border between El Paso, Texas and Mexico.  

US Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said, "A high number for us is 4,000, a crisis level is 6,000." But as of Wednesday, authorities had more than double that number in custody. McAleenan calls 13,000 immigrants in custody unprecedented for that location, saying it undermines the patrol's security efforts.

CBN News contributor Chuck Holton is on the ground in El Paso. He reports, "And the border patrol is saying they're drowning. They're having to pull people off of law enforcement duties, things that are very important to the national security of this country, process the people here. And since they don't have the facilities to take care of them they're having to just let them leave."

They're being released with a notice to appear in immigration court - a process that could take years.   


A Border Patrol agent arrests a man suspected of having entered the US illegally near McAllen, Texas.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay

McAleenan said, "And within that group - thousands of criminals, smugglers, gang members and public safety threats that we're sworn to protect this country from."

This warning came right after the Pentagon shifted a billion dollars of its budget to build a border fence - construction some say is desperately needed.

"They're not seeing people climb the fence, because it just ends right here," Holton said, standing right at the edge of the fence. "That's Mexico right behind me there, so the Mexicans don't have to climb the fence, they just walk around it."


An incomplete section of border fencing as seen from the Texas side during Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan's tour of the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Speaking on Capitol Hill, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan defended moving the money for the fence. Shanahan said, "Given a legal order from the commander in chief, we are executing on that order."

Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith said, "To look at the Pentagon as sort of a piggy bank slush fund where you can simply go in and grab money for something when you need it really undermines the idea of the DOD budget."

Those on the ground say mending the broken border will take a multi-level fix, and it needs to happen soon.

McAleenan said, "Legislative relief, changes in the law, and closing the vulnerabilities in our framework is the only way that this flow is going to be reduced and we are going to be able to restore integrity to our immigration system."

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