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The White House softens tone after threat to close the border with Mexico

WASHINGTON / NEW YORK (Reuters) – The White House took a step back on Tuesday from a threat to closing the US border with Mexico, although a relocation of frontier staff in recent days has led to a slowdown in legal crossings and trade in US entry ports there.

White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration sees Mexico "reinforcing and taking greater responsibility" to deal with immigration flows that US officials say are overwhelming entry ports along the border.

"They've begun to make significant more. We've seen them take a larger number of individuals" and keep those who have asylum claims in Mexico while they are being treated in the United States, Sanders told reporters at the White House.

"We have also seen them stop more people from crossing the border so that they do not even enter the US. So the two things are really helpful and we would like to see them continue," Sanders says.

Trump threatened on Friday to close the border this week unless Mexico took action to stop immigrants from reaching the United States illegally, closing the border may interfere with millions of legal border crossings and billions of dollars in trade.

Trump hinted at a softening earlier in a Twitter post on Tuesday. "After many years (decades), Mexico seizes a large number of people at its southern border, mainly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador," he said.

Sanders said the administration "looked at all options in terms of closing the different ports of the entrance, what it looks like and what the consequences would be. "

She told the Fox News administration that Mexico would continue to work to take address the issue so, adding that the administration is studying the consequences of closing different ports of records to give Trump some options.


Officials of US Homeland Security Service (DHS) said on Tuesday that a rescheduling of about 750 officers on the border to deal with an increase in immigrants ̵

1; mostly American families targeting border agents – had led to a slowdown of legal crossings and trade in ports for entry.

"Waiting times in Brownsville (Texas) were about 180 minutes, which was twice the peaks last year," said a leading DHS official on a conversation with journalists. "We finished the day yesterday at Otay Mesa (California) with a back-up of 150 untreated trucks," said the official. "This is a reality."

DHS officials said on the call that border regions have been overwhelmed by families who cannot be expelled quickly because they hope to seek asylum in the United States.

A US Customs and Border Protection Agent (CBP) cast their shadow on a plaque that marked the borders of Mexico and the United States, at the international border crossing Paso del Norte in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on April 1, 2019. REUTERS / Jose Luis Gonzalez [19659014] The US Customs and Border Survey estimated that about 100,000 immigrants would be captured or supported at the border in March, the highest level in a decade. "The system is on fire," said a DHS official.

Due to the limits of how long children may legally be detained in prison, many of the families are awaiting their hearings in the US Immigration Court, a process that can take years due to balloon backlogs.

In an attempt to solve the problem, at the end of January, the administration began to return some migrants to Mexico to wait for their US court dates in Mexican border towns. On Monday, DHS said it would dramatically increase the pace of the Framework Program, even if challenged in court and immigrant lawyers concerned about how the process is being implemented.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland in Washington and Mica Rosenberg in New York; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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