President Donald Trump said Saturday his administration was considering restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border, after he authorized new hurdles on travel with Iran and heightened advisories for areas in South Korea and Italy as the coronavirus spreads across the globe.
"We are thinking about the southern border, " Trump said at a White House press conference. "We are looking at that very strongly."
Trump's comments come after the news agency Reuters reported the White House was considering imposing entry restrictions with Mexico to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, although only three cases have been confirmed there. The United States, on the other hand, had confirmed 66 cases of the illness.
There are more than 85,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide and at least 2,941 deaths, the overwhelming majority of them in China, where the illness first surfaced. Asia and Europe are the hardest hit areas of the world, while Latin America has reported very few cases so far. In addition to Mexico, Brazil has reported 1 confirmed case of the virus.
Trump appeared to roll back his statement when challenged by a reporter over his reason for considering action on the U.S. southern border, given how few cases of the coronavirus there are in Mexico at the moment.
"We're thinking about all borders, we have to think about that border," Trump said. "This is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now, we hope we will not have to do that."
Trump threatened to close the border with Mexico last March if the country did not meet his demands on stemming migrants and asylum seekers from crossing the border into the United States. The president's push to build a wall along the southern border has also been a source of fierce partisan battle in Washington, leading to a 35-day government shutdown in late 2018 through early 2019.