While the first death tied directly to the coronavirus in the United States was confirmed as taking place overnight in Washington state, which shares a border with Canada, critics say President Donald Trump on Saturday again revealed his racist and xenophobic obsessions by confirming earlier reports that his administration is considering closing the U.S.-Mexico border as a way to stem the spread of the virus.
"We have received a lot of power on the southern border over the last couple years from the courts" -- Trump says he's considering closing the southern border in response to coronavirus (no cases have come from Mexico) pic.twitter.com/NTpLIlZ1CP
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 29, 2020
"There are five times as many confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Canada as Mexico," tweeted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). "Why isn't Donald Trump focused on our northern border? I'll give you three guesses but you'll only need one."
President Trump says he is thinking very hard about possibly closing the southern border of the United States with Mexico in response coronavirus.
Note: Trump didn’t mention possibly closing the northern border with Canada.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) February 29, 2020
Reuters reported early on Saturday, citing a pair of U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials, that the Trump administration "is considering imposing entry restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border to control the spread of the coronavirus" into the country. According to Reuters:
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Mexico's government said on Friday it had detected three cases of coronavirus infection in three men who had all recently traveled to Italy, making the country the second in Latin America to register the fast-spreading virus.
The concern over containing the virus at the southern U.S. border comes as the Trump administration also weighs possible restrictions on the entry of travelers from South Korea, Italy and Japan.
Asked by a second reporter at the White House press conference why he was focusing on the Mexico border, Trump said he would consider closing any border that was necessary and acknowledged that the threat of coronavirus coming from Mexico did not appear to be a significant problem at this time.
At a rally in South Carolina on Friday night, Trump connected the threat of coronavirus into what he calls the "open border" policies of the Democrats, who have continued to criticize Trump over his handling of the virus as well as his history of cruel border policies and racist comments aimed at people from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America.
"Whether it's the virus that we're talking about, or the many other public health threats, the Democrat policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health and wellbeing of all Americans," Trump said.