President Donald Trump threatened a government shutdown if Congress did not act quickly to close immigration loopholes allowing MS-13 gang members to cross the border.
“Frankly, I’ll go a step further, if we don’t change the legislation, if we don’t get rid of these loopholes where killers are allowed to come into our country … if we don’t change it let’s have a shutdown, we’ll do a shutdown,” Trump said. “It’s worth it for our country.”
The president hosted a law enforcement roundtable on the threat posed by MS-13 gang members with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials from the Department of Justice.
“I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of,” Trump continued.
Several members of Congress also attended — Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York, Martha McSally of Arizona, Michael McCaul of Texas, and Barbara Comstock of Virginia.
Comstock, who represents a Virginia district near Washington, DC, challenged Trump on his call for a shutdown.
“We don’t need a government shutdown on this,” she said.
“You can say what you want,” Trump said. “We are not getting support of the Democrats.”
Trump appeared frustrated after hearing stories from law enforcement officials describing how their hands were tied by existing laws that allowed catch-and-release and by minorities earning protected status despite hired smugglers bringing them into the United States.
“If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety – and unrelated, but still related, they don’t want to take care of our military – then shut it down,” Trump said. “We’ll go with another shutdown.”
Trump also warned that MS-13 gang members took advantage of the loopholes in the legal system, allowing them to break into the United States.
He called for Congress to fund his long-promised wall.
“We need the wall, we’re going to get the wall, we don’t have the wall, we’re never going to solve this problem … without the wall it’s not going to work,” Trump said.
He said that foreign countries were “laughing” at the United States for its weak immigration and deportation laws.
“If other nations see what we’re doing, and they do watch what we’re doing, they laugh at us, they can’t believe that these policies where we can’t get people out that are killers,” he said.
He complained that it was frustrating that foreign countries who received aid from the United States refused to take back apprehended criminals to their countries.
“We give them tremendous amounts of aid, and they won’t take their killers back when we have them,” Trump said.
He thanked the officials after they spent nearly an hour talking about the problems they faced.
“I’m going to go through hell to get this stuff approved,” Trump said. “We have no choice.”