He made the comments during a roundtable on immigration and border security at the U.S. Border Patrol Calexico Station.
“The system is full. We can’t take you anymore. Whether it’s asylum. Whether it’s anything you want. It’s illegal immigration,” Trump said. “Can’t take you anymore. Can’t take you. Our country is full … Can’t take you anymore, I’m sorry. So turn around. That’s the way it is.”
The president made his third visit to California since taking office Friday to inspect the U.S.-Mexico border amid strong opposition in Congress for his proposed wall.
Trump traveled to the city of Calexico, about 120 miles east of San Diego, to tour a 30-foot section of replacement border fence that was installed last year.
Construction crews finished replacing the 2.25 miles of bollard-style fencing in Calexico last October — the first major replacement project to be completed anywhere on the border since Trump took office more than two years ago.
He defended his decision to declare a national emergency over border security.
“I see some of our biggest opponents over the last two days have said it really is an emergency, they can’t believe what’s happening. Part of it is because of the fact that the country is doing so well. Part of it is a scam. People want to come in. They shouldn’t be coming in. They shouldn’t be coming in,” Trump said.
Later Friday, Trump is expected to board Air Force One and head to Los Angeles for a campaign fundraiser for his re-election bid. Tickets have gone for $15,000 for the dinner, $50,000 for the chance to take a picture with Trump and $150,000 to participate in a roundtable discussion, according to an invitation.
In advance of his visit, Trump shared a series of articles on Twitter on Thursday expressing support for his promised wall. He also backed off a threat to close the border, saying he would give Mexico City one year to stop the flow of illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants or he’d impose new tariffs on Mexican goods, similar to those he’s levied against China.
“If they don’t, we’re going to tariff their cars at 25 percent coming into the United States,” he said. “So, every time they make a car it’s a 25 percent tariff. That means we make money as opposed to lose money. We probably bring those car companies back into the United States.”
A number of automakers have auto plants in Mexico that ship to the United States, including Ford and General Motors.
Trump said he’s similarly considering sanctions for drug smuggling at the border.
“I’m also am looking at an economic penalty for all the drugs that are coming in through the southern border and killing our people,” he said. “If they apprehend people at their southern border, where they don’t have to walk through, that’s a big home run. We can handle it from there.”
The president said the current immigration system has been a failure.
“They have to get rid of the whole asylum system because it doesn’t work. And frankly, we should get rid of judges,” he said. “You can’t have a court case every time somebody stepped foot on our ground.”
Trump’s visit Friday comes after a new lawsuit this week from the board of supervisors in San Diego County, which says the administration’s decision to end the “Safe Release” program, which aided asylum seekers who crossed the border, has strained the city’s finances and health services.
“Large numbers of asylum seekers and accompanying family members are forced to remain in the county, without sufficient means to support themselves,” the suit states. “In response … the county has been forced to expend substantial funds and other resources to provide medical screening and care to the asylum seekers.”
Also Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a California judge to block the administration from building the border wall with funds collected through Trump’s national emergency declaration. Congress attempted to block the declaration, which allows Trump to go around Congress and appropriate money for the wall, but its legislation to do so was vetoed by the president last month. There weren’t enough votes in Congress to override the veto.
“Now that the president has started raiding military funds and vetoed Congress’s rejection of his emergency, it’s urgent that the court stop his unconstitutional power grab,” ACLU attorney Dror Ladin said in a statement.