Washington: President Donald Trump lashed out Monday at Mexico, Democrats and the US Congress in a furious tirade triggered by images of a “caravan” of hundreds of migrants headed for the US border.
For the second straight day, Trump took to Twitter to attack Mexico for allowing the group of Central Americans to march unimpeded toward the United States, their daily progress mapped out by Buzzfeed and other US media.
He threatened to abrogate NAFTA, the US-Mexico-Canada free trade pact, and demanded Congress pass tougher immigration legislation and support his plan for a massive wall along the Mexican frontier.
He also declared he no longer supported a replacement for DACA, the program that had offered protection against deportation to some 700,000 undocumented immigrants, most of them Mexicans, who came to the US as children.
“Mexico has the absolute power not to let these large ‘Caravans’ of people enter their country,” the president wrote.
“Mexico is making a fortune on NAFTA…They have very strong border laws — ours are pathetic,” he added.
“With all of the money they make from the US, hopefully they will stop people from coming through their country and into ours, at least until Congress changes our immigration laws!”
1,500 headed to border: Fourteen months into his presidency, Trump remains angry that he has made only partial progress on promises to construct a border wall, deport illegal immigrants and sharply curtail legal immigration, which he links to drug trafficking, gang crimes and terrorism.
Earlier this year Congress failed to pass legislation that would meet Trump’s goals, and at the same time offer a path to citizenship for the 690,000 DACA registrants and another 1.1 million who would have qualified for the now-cancelled program.
Trump renewed his attacks on the Democratic opposition, holding them responsible for the demise of the program which he rescinded last year.
“DACA is dead because the Democrats didn’t care or act, and now everyone wants to get onto the DACA bandwagon… No longer works,” he tweeted.
“Must build Wall and secure our borders with proper Border legislation. Democrats want No Borders, hence drugs and crime!”
On March 23 a budget bill allocated just $1.6 billion toward Trump’s wall, far short of the $25 billion he has demanded. That left the frustrated president turning to the newly expanded military budget to see if it could provide funds.
The migrant caravan has only added fuel to the president’s fire. First reported by Buzzfeed, the 1,500-strong group of Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans was featured over the weekend on Fox News, which Trump regularly watches.
Organized each of the past five years by activists of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, or People Without Borders, the migrants have left their countries “because of poverty and violence from criminal organizations,” Irineo Mujica, an organizer, told AFP.
They set off on March 25 from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas for the US border, where many hope to apply for asylum, Mujica said.
On Monday they were passing through the mountainous southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.
‘Cash cow’: The United States, Mexico and Canada are currently re-negotiating the terms of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, with the next round of formal talks expected this month in Washington.
Trump has blown hot and cold over the prospects of a new deal, and on Sunday warned Mexico that he would cancel the accord without action on immigration.
“Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the US,” he said.
“They laugh at our dumb immigration laws. They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA.”