President Donald Trump touted the progress of building more barrier along the United States-Mexico border during a visit to California Friday, saying it's now imperative that the U.S. stop the flow of illegal aliens because "the system is full."
Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visited Calexico, California and held a public meeting with officials from the Border Patrol, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the military, and others.
Trump said the U.S. immigration system is beyond capacity and more wall needs to continue to be built. So far this year, more than 80 miles of barrier have been installed, with another 97 miles planned by the end of the year.
"The wall has had a tremendous impact," Trump said. "We have a system that is full. It's just full. And I was telling some of the people before, if it's full, there's nothing we can do about it."
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, who heads the Army Corps of Engineers, attended the meeting and said there will be around 450 miles of new border barrier put in place by the end of 2020.
Trump reiterated the point several times during the meeting, which was broadcast live, that there is an emergency at the border and something needs to be done.
"This is an absolute emergency. I see that some of our biggest opponents over the last two days have said, you know what? It is an emergency. They can't believe what is happening," Trump said. "Part of it is because of the fact that the country is doing so well. Part of it is a scam. People want to come in. They shouldn't be coming in."
Trump added later that existing immigration laws, including those around the asylum process, need to be fixed.
After calling some of the laws "horrible loopholes," Trump said, "It's bad. Whether it's catch and release or the visa lottery. So many of them. Chain migration. Total disaster. The asylum laws are broken. I inherited this stuff. We're going to get it fixed. We have to.
"I also want to state that there is indeed an emergency on our southern border. It's been loud and clear."
Trump recently threatened to close down the U.S. border with Mexico, which prompted an outcry of pushback from all sides. But he said Friday that over the last four days, Mexico has begun cooperating with its northern neighbor to help squash the flow of migrants coming through its country en route to the U.S.
"They're apprehending people by the thousands and bringing them back to their countries, bringing them back to where they came from," he said.
Later during a visit to the physical border in Calexio, Trump again acknowledged Mexico's efforts this week.
"Mexico has been doing a great job," Trump said. "I want to thank the president of Mexico [Andrés Manuel López Obrador], he's the first one doing the job. He's helping Mexico, too. Not only economically and not because I won't be forced to shut it down or do tariffs, he is helping Mexico. He's doing a great thing for his country."