Trump closing southern border, claims migrants causing ‘viral spread’

He called for stopping all non-essential travel at the southern border.

ABC News – President Donald Trump announced Friday that he was closing the border with Mexico to stop what he claimed was the danger of “viral spread” from undocumented immigrants.

“Our nation’s top healthcare officials are concerned about the great public health consequences of mass, uncontrolled cross-border movement,” Trump said as he again appeared at the daily White House briefing on how the government is responding to the coronavirus crisis.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is exercising its authority under Title 42 of the U.S. Code to give Customs and Border Protection the tools it needs to prevent the virus coming through the northern and southern borders,” he continued.

“We are treating the borders equally. A lot of people say they are not treated equally. Well, they are. As we did with Canada we are working with Mexico to implement new rules at ports of entry to suspend non-essential travel,” Trump said.

“This is a joint comprehensive effort in collaboration with our neighbors. All of those measures that we are putting in place will protect the health of all three nations and reduce the incentive for a mass global migration that would deplete the health care resources needed for our people,” Trump said. “So we are working very closely with Mexico and very, very closely with Canada. And the relationship has never been better. We are all working towards the game goal.”

“Our nation’s top healthcare officials are extremely concerned about the great public health consequences of mass, uncontrolled cross-border movement. And that would be, mostly and even beyond, but mostly during this global pandemic. Every week, our border agents encounter thousands of unscreened, unvetted, and unauthorized entries from dozens of countries. And we’ve had this problem for decades — for decades. You know the story,” he said.

“We’ll be stronger than ever before, and we have learned a lot about relying on other countries. Some good things came out of it and some not so good things came out of it.” Trump said. “I would like to invite our team to provide information on the new measures of the viral spread of our borders.”

“The United States and Mexico have agreed to restrict non-essential travels across our shared borders,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, referring to the disease, as Trump did, as the “Chinese virus.” “Both our countries know the importance of working together to limit the strength of the virus.”

The restrictions of all nonessential travel between Mexico and Canada will go into effect on Saturday, March 31, said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.

“Under section 362 of the Public Health Service Act,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, “the CDC is suspending the entry of certain persons into the United States because of the public health threat that their entry in the United States represents.”

“This order applies to persons coming from Mexico and Canada who are seeking into the country illegally and normally are held in a congregate setting like a Custom and Border Protection,” Azar continued. “We are talking about significant numbers of illegal immigrants.”

Significantly, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s leading expert on pandemics, said he supported the new travel restrictions.

“There’s a fundamental health reason for doing that,” he said.

Fauci applauded New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s move to shut down 100% of the workforce, excluding nonessentials services, saying, “I strongly support what he’s doing.”

“I was in New York City on September 11th, 2001, and I know what New Yorkers can do. So, please, cooperate with your governor, cooperate with your neighbor,” Fauci said. “It is very important.”

Asked if there will be a nationwide lockdown to keep people at home, Trump said he doesn’t think so.

“California and New York have done that,” Trump said, but as for other states, he said, “I don’t think so. You go out to the Midwest and other locations, and they’re watching their television but they don’t have the same problem.”

After the FDA walked back Trump’s comments Thursday that a drug was already approved to treat COVID-19, Fauci was asked if there has been some promise with hydroxchloroquine.

“The answer is no,” he said. “The evidence you are talking about is anecdotal evidence. We are trying to strike a balance between making something of a potential of the effect to the American people available and at the same time we do it under the protocol that’ll give us the information that’s truly safe and effective.”

Fauci, who has said there is no “magic drug” to treat coronavirus, was asked if Americans should feel hope about the drug right now.

“The president is feeling optimistic,” Fauci said. “I am saying it may be effective. As a scientist, and as we are getting it out there, we need to do it in a way, while we are making it available for people who may want the hope that it may work, you are also collecting data that ultimately will show it is truly effective and safe under the conditions of COVID-19.”

Trump, asked if he agrees with him, said, “It may work and it may not work. I agree with doc, I may work or may not good. I feel good about it,” Trump said. “Just a feeling.”

Trump also said, “I invoked the Defense Production Act. And last night, we put it into gear.”

Trump also announced another big step to ease the economic hardships on Americans amid the coronavirus crisis.

Earlier Friday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tweeted that — under the president’s direction — the federal government was postponing Tax Day until July 15.

As California effectively shuts down, and the State Department warns Americans not to leave the country, President Donald Trump’s approval for his handling of the novel coronavirus outbreak is on the rise even after he downplayed the threat of COVID-19 on American life for weeks.

Trump has shifted his approach and tone this week to the coronavirus response, giving daily briefings on the crisis alongside the White House task force since Saturday and proposing new economic and public health measures to combat the virus.

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