President Donald Trump railed against Mexico during a cabinet meeting on Thursday, accusing the country of doing nothing “except taking our money and sending us drugs” amid the ongoing fallout over his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
The president used the meeting to lambast American border protection and heap blame on the Democrats, once again repeating false statements that the party was behind the separation of immigrant families detained while trying to cross into the U.S. But Trump’s most vitriolic commentary came when discussing Mexico, saying the country does “nothing for us” while making unfounded accusations that criminals were able to cross the southern border.
“They walk through Mexico like it’s walking through Central Park. It’s ridiculous,” Trump said of immigrants that illegally cross into the U.S. “One of the reasons I’m being tough is because they do nothing for us at the border. They encourage people, frankly, to walk through Mexico and go into the United States because they’re drug traffickers, they’re human traffickers, they’re coyotes. I mean, we’re getting some real beauties.”
He continued: “[Mexico] could solve this problem in two minutes; you wouldn’t even have to do anything. But they don’t do it. They talk a good game, but they don’t do it.”
The White House backed away from its hardline border policy on Wednesday after widespread criticism, and Trump signed an executive order that would effectively detain parents and children together, rather than split them apart. It’s unclear what will happen to the 2,300 children that have already been removed from their parents by authorities and placed in juvenile detention centers.
Trump repeatedly blamed Democrats for the detentions on Thursday and said the party was stonewalling Republican efforts to craft new immigration laws.
“They don’t care about the children. They don’t care about the injury. They don’t care about the problems. They don’t care about anything,” Trump said. “All they do is say, ‘Obstruct, and let’s see how we do.’ Because they have no policies that are any good. They’re not good politicians.”
The House rejected a hard-line immigration bill on Thursday that was not expected to pass, and then delayed a vote on another measure meant to be a compromise between Republicans. But Democrats, needed to pass any measure in the Senate, have voiced opposition to that bill.
“It is not a compromise,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Thursday. “It may be a compromise with the devil, but it’s not a compromise with the Democrats, in terms of what they have in their bill.”
The president did note during the cabinet meeting that both he and his wife, Melania Trump, were “really bothered” by the separations at the border. But he said that he needed “two to tango” and lamented that Republicans only had 51 seats in the Senate while most major legislation has a 60-vote threshold in the chamber to avoid a filibuster.
He later took to Twitter to urge his party to eliminate the rule, saying it was “killing” Republican efforts.