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Trump softens rhetoric on closing border, suggests Mexico is helping to stop illegal crossings

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WASHINGTON – After days of relentlessly attacking Mexico over illegal border crossings, the White House toned down its rhetoric Tuesday and suggested the U.S.’s southern neighbor is actually helping to stop people from crossing the border illegally.

President Donald Trump, who last week threatened to seal off the southern border if Mexico didn’t work to halt the crossings, said on Twitter that Mexico is apprehending “large numbers of people” at its southern border.

“After many years (decades), Mexico is apprehending large numbers of people at their Southern Border, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador,” Trump wrote. “They have ALL been taking U.S. money for years, and doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for us, just like the Democrats in Congress!”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders made similar remarks during an appearance on Fox News.

While closing the border remains an option, Mexico is “stepping up and helping the United States do more by helping stop people from coming across our border, by stopping them in Mexico,” Sanders said.

“These are things that we’ve seen them do over the last several weeks, and they’re stepping up and taking a greater sense of responsibility in that process,” she said. “That’s a great thing. We need them to continue to do that so we aren’t forced to take drastic action like closing the ports of entry at our border because we simply have no choice.”

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Fabiana Rosales, a Venezuelan activist who is the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, in the Oval Office.

Sanders later told reporters at the White House that Trump “is not working on a specific timeline” for closing the border even though he had suggested it could happen as early as this week.

Speaking to reporters in Florida on Friday, Trump said there is a “very good likelihood that I’ll be closing the border next week” if Mexico doesn’t do more to stem the influx of migrant families arriving from Central America.

A few hours earlier, he made a similar threat on Twitter, writing in a pair of posts: “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.”

The threat prompted objections from border-state Republicans and business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which argued the move would damage the nation’s economy.

Meanwhile, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he would “act with prudence” regarding Trump’s threats shut down the border.

Lopez Obrador declined to speculate on the possible border closure but stressed that he takes the threat seriously.

“We are not going to confront the government of the United States,” he said during his daily public address. “I asked (my advisers) if they wanted us to be prudent, and I believe that this is the best thing, to have a policy of friendship with the United States government, to be good neighbors and act with great prudence, not engaging in a confrontation, in a lawsuit.”



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