President Donald Trump threatened on Friday to close the USA border with Mexico next week, potentially disrupting millions of legal border crossings and billions of dollars in trade if Mexico does not stop immigrants from reaching the United States.
"If we have to close ports to take care of all the numbers who are coming, we will do that", the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity shortly after Trump's announcement on Twitter.
It is not clear how shutting down ports of entry would deter asylum seekers, as they are legally able to request help as soon as they set foot on USA soil.
"Mexico is making absolutely a fortune with the United States they have a trade surplus of over a hundred billion dollars, which is far bigger than anybody understands, they've had it for many years", he said.
"Mexico is doing NOTHING to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our Country", he tweeted.
For months, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been releasing thousands of detainees in Arizona, many in the Phoenix area.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday acknowledged that migrants were increasingly coming north, "because there are no options, no alternatives in Central America". The U.S. and Central American officials signed a border security compact Wednesday that aims to expand intelligence sharing, address human trafficking and combat transnational gangs. "But they chose not to", Trump said.
"We are going to help in every way we can".
But Lopez Obrador said a solution would depend on "fundamentally addressing the causes of migration". However, a wall wouldn't keep out families who cross the border at official points so they can surrender and be detained. "CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border". More personnel between ports of entry may allow more visibility to catch these migrants once they've crossed, but it's unclear whether their presence will make them more likely to avoid crossing in the first place.
His warning echoed tweets earlier in the day in which Trump threatened that he would be "CLOSING the Border, or large sections of the Border" if the situation did not improve.
Despite Trump's claims, overall, attempts to get across the border into the United States illegally are down substantially from a decade or more ago.
The agency makes 'every attempt to coordinate the release of these individuals with NGOs that provide assistance with basic needs, but the heavy influx in recent months has inundated these organizations as well, ' Rodriguez said.