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President Donald Trump on Saturday launched a new salvo in the fierce battle over immigration, blasting Democrats for obstructing his efforts to secure the border as thousands of Central American migrants flooded the dividing line between the U.S. and Mexico.
Amid worsening tensions in the White House over refugees from Guatemala and Honduras flocking to the border, Trump took to Twitter and blamed Democrats for being weak on border security. Calling attention to the "horrors taking place on the border," the president urged Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to work with the White House on a solution.
With the November midterms just 17 days away, Trump has become more vocal about the border crisis. At an election rally on Friday in front of thousands of supporters in Arizona, a state bordered by Mexico.
"Democrats want to throw your borders wide open to criminals. I want to build a wall," Trump told the crowd. "The Democrats don't care that a flood of illegal immigration is going to bankrupt our country."
The president and Republicans are trying to fire up their base ahead of next month's hotly-contested election, in an effort to stave off a possible "blue wave" that could see Democrats elected in large numbers.
Trump has reportedly become frustrated by efforts to stymie his tough stance on immigration, an issue that launched his 2016 election bid. Several publications this week reported an expletive-filled shouting match between White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton over the issue, sparking new concerns Kelly could resign.
In September, the president signed a spending bill to keep the government open, despite previously calling the measure "ridiculous" because it did not include funding for a wall along the southern border. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told CNBC shortly after the House followed the Senate in passing the funding measure that the administration would take up the wall issue after the midterms.
On Thursday night, the migrant caravan of at least 3,000, many waving Honduran flags and chanting slogans, arrived at the Guatemalan border with Mexico. On Friday, they broke down Guatemalan gates and streamed toward a bridge to Mexico. Most were repelled by Mexican police. The caravan situation is a near replay of a similar caravan that did indeed reach the American border in April.
Mexico's government, which said it will process migrants' claims for asylum individually, vowed to tackle the current caravan as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met top officials in Mexico City on Friday. Pompeo urged Mexico to ensure the procession did not reach the U.S.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.