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Trump at Mexico border: The US is ‘full’

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US President Donald Trump visited the Mexican border on Friday to deliver a message to would-be illegal immigrants and asylum seekers: don’t bother coming.

“The system is full and we can’t take you anymore… Our country is full,” he said at a meeting with border patrol officers and other officials in Calexico, California. “So turn around, that’s the way it is.”

Shortly after, Trump visited a section of recently refurbished border wall — something he wants extended across far more of the US-Mexico frontier — and said illegal immigrants had previously been “pouring” in.

The California trip followed a retreat from earlier threats to close the border, which had sparked fears of serious economic damage.

Nevertheless, Trump sees his campaign against a “crisis” on the border as key to his 2020 reelection bid, and his time in Calexico was meant to keep that message in the headlines.

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Numbers of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America have risen sharply, although there are enormous political divides on whether this constitutes the “national emergency” that Trump has declared.

 AFP / SAUL LOEB US President Donald Trump sees his campaign against a “crisis” on the border as key to his 2020 reelection bid, and his time in Calexico was meant to keep that message in the headlines

Around 200 protesters, accompanied by a giant inflatable balloon depicting Trump as a baby, were waiting for the president in Mexicali, the town on the Mexican side of the frontier.

Waving US and Mexican flags, the protesters carried signs with messages such as “Stop separating families” and “If you build the wall, my generation will tear it down.”

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On the US side, dozens of people lined the road that Trump’s motorcade took, demonstrating support for his policies. “Build the wall,” said one placard.

Before leaving Washington earlier Friday, Trump said that his previous threats to shut down the border had been successful in persuading Mexican authorities to clamp down by stopping migrants on their journey north.

“Mexico, I have to say, has been very, very good… over the last four days since I talked about shutting down the border,” he said.

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– ‘Stay calm’ –

 AFP / SAUL LOEB US Customs and Border Patrol cars are seen near the border wall between the United States and Mexico in Calexico, California on April 5, 2019

Trump reiterated that actually closing the border is not currently in the cards, but said he will instead impose 25 percent tariffs on auto imports from Mexico if illegal migration and drug smuggling are not controlled.

Trump also said he could still order the border closed later. “I may shut it down at some point but I’d rather do tariffs,” he said.

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While sounding tough, Trump’s surprise shift this week to tariffs from the previous threat to close the border is a major climb down.

For days, the White House had been signaling that he was serious about the threat and there was even speculation that he might announce a closing during his Calexico trip.

AFP / AFPThe US-Mexico border

However, the idea caused alarm among economists and Congress, including in Trump’s Republican Party. Mexico is the third-largest US trading partner and any hold-ups at border crossings would have an immediate impact on trade.

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The tariffs idea is also causing confusion.

On Thursday, Trump indicated there would be a one-year deadline for Mexico to improve the situation before tariffs kicked in. However, it was not clear if he meant that both for the drug smuggling and migration, or whether he wanted the migration issue resolved immediately.

On Friday, the timing was no clearer. But he seemed to suggest that he might seek to punish Mexico at any time he thought the southern neighbor was not doing enough.

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 AFP / Guillermo Arias Mexico is the third-largest US trading partner and President Donald Trump’s threat to close the border or impose tariffs has sparked fears of major economic impacts

“We’re going to shut (the border) down if we have to. We going to tariff the cars, Mexico, if we have to,” he said.

It was also unclear how such tariffs would fit into the countries’ deeply intertwined trading relationship, which is governed by NAFTA, a free trade accord also including Canada that is due to be replaced by an updated version called the USMCA.

Leaders of the three countries signed the USMCA in November after more than a year of negotiations.

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Trump said Friday that his tariffs would “supersede USMCA. It’s a great deal, and it’s very good for Mexico. But this will supersede USMCA.”

In Mexico City, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged investors to “stay calm.”

“Our relationship with the government of the United States is very good,” he said.


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The racist Republican Party must be ‘utterly confronted and destroyed’: Chris Hayes

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On Thursday evening, MSNBC's Chris Hayes tore into the Republican Party for accepting and legitimizing the racism of President Donald Trump and his supporters.

"'Send Her Back.' The darkest, ugliest impulses that a political movement can cultivate on full unapologetic display," said Hayes. "That's what Donald Trump has been cultivating all along. Whether the Republican Party likes it or not, it stands for it now. Most of us across the ideological spectrum feel, viscerally, a kind of moral revulsion when we hear and see an angry mob braying 'Send Her Back' about a fellow American. But the reaction from Republicans today was basically a foregone conclusion."

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President Donald Trump's racism is shocking the entire globe, Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent wrote in a Thursday column.

"One of the most chilling things about President Trump’s hate-rally in North Carolina — which devolved into chants of “send her back,” directed at a nonwhite immigrant member of Congress — was the profusion of tweets about it from abroad," Sargent reported.

"As the president of the United States leads a domestic hate movement, the world is watching," he explained.

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Trump might ‘already be in prison’ if not for the DOJ policy: national security lawyer

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On Thursday, newly unsealed documents showed that FBI agents believed President Donald Trump was personally involved in the illegal scheme to pay off porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an affair she had with him ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Furthermore, the Office of Legal Counsel memo prohibiting the indictment of a sitting president reportedly "factored into" the end of the probe.

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