April 2, 2019 / 6:22 PM / a year ago

Trump says he's prepared to close Mexico border if necessary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was prepared to close the U.S. southern border if necessary but that Mexico has apprehended thousands of people in recent days and its actions have made a big difference in the immigration situation.

Trump threatened on Friday to close the border with Mexico this week unless Mexico took steps to help the United States with illegal immigration, a move which had threatened to overload U.S. ports of entry in the region.

The administration softened its tone on the issue on Tuesday, saying Mexico was taking greater responsibility for dealing with the immigration flows.

“They have started to do a significant amount more. We’ve seen them take a larger number of individuals” and hold those who have asylum claims in Mexico while they are being processed in the United States, White House spokeswoman Sanders told reporters at the White House.

“We’ve also seen them stop more people from coming across the border so that they aren’t even entering into the United States. So those two things are certainly helpful and we’d like to see them continue,” Sanders said.

Trump hinted at a softening earlier in a Twitter post on Tuesday. “After many years (decades), Mexico is apprehending large numbers of people at their Southern Border, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador,” he said.

He also told reporters at the White House he was still prepared to do that if necessary but that Mexico had apprehended thousands of people in recent days, having a big impact on the border situation.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Alistair Bell

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