11:55 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Thank you very much for being here. It’s a Cabinet meeting, and we have plenty of things to discuss and plenty of success. We’ve had a tremendous amount of success.
We’re working, however, right now on immigration, which has been going on for many years. We have come up with a lot of solutions, but we have Democrats that don’t want to approve anything because that’s probably, they think, bad for the election that’s coming up. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people suffering, and that’s unfortunate.
Unrelated, and before we get into that, the new employment claims recently out just yesterday show that we have the lowest level in nearly a half a century. That’s something that is an incredible statistic. And in half a century. That’s a long time.
And the economy is booming. It’s doing really well. We’re renegotiating trade deals. We’re doing very well on those trade deals. It’s taking a little period of time. We put tariffs on certain countries and certain industries where it’s been very unfair to the United States. Our Treasury has taken in billions of dollars. And these other countries are coming along that have not treated us well, and they are negotiating very vigorously. And lots of good things are happening.
This should have been taken care of a long time before my administration came into being. But for some reason, for 25, 30 years, nobody ever looked at trade deals. They’re out of control, how bad they are. But we’re going them very good. And we’re going to make them fair for both countries — for our country and for whichever country we’re dealing with. And there are plenty of them because they’re all bad. There’s nothing good.
My administration is also acting swiftly to address the illegal immigration crisis on the southern border. Loopholes in our immigration laws, all supported by extremist, open-border Democrats — and that’s what they are. They’re extremist, open-border Democrats. If you look at Nancy Pelosi and you look at Chuck Schumer, you’ll see tapes where they wanted to have borders — they needed borders for security — just a short while ago. A number of years ago, I see Chuck Schumer — “We must have borders.” Hillary Clinton — “We must have borders. If people penetrate our borders, we must get them out of our country.” Now, all of a sudden, they’re big open-border people. It’s a whole big con job. In the meantime, people are suffering because of the Democrats.
So we’ve created, and they’ve created, and they’ve let it happen — a massive child-smuggling industry. That’s exactly what it’s become. Traffickers — if you think about this — human traffickers are making a fortune. It’s a disgrace.
These loopholes force the release of alien families and minors into the country when they illegally cross the border. Since 2014 alone, nearly 200,000 unaccompanied alien minors have been released into the United States as a result of Democrat-backed loopholes, including catch-and-release, which is one of the worst. You catch them, and then you release them. Might as well save your time. Don’t bother catching them. And this is what we’re stuck with. They’re the worst immigration laws in the history of the world. The whole world is laughing at the United States, and they have been for years.
These alien minors were separated and sent all the way up here alone. But they really came up with coyotes. You know what a coyote is. Not good. These are not good people. They were sent up here with human traffickers because the Democrat-supported policies have allowed this to happen.
Democrats also refuse to fund the personnel, the bed space, the resources that we need to house the minors. Now, they want us to take care of the minors, and that’s fine. But they don’t want to give us the money to take care of them. Because the worse everything looks, they think, the better they’re going to do, with respect to the blue wave. Which is turning out, frankly, to be a red wave if you look at the polls. I think we’re going to have a red wave, not a blue wave.
So they want us to take care of bed space, and resources, and personnel, and take everybody. And, you know, like, let’s run the most luxurious hotel in the world for everybody. But they don’t want to give us the money. So you could ask them about that.
We have to house these minors, and we have to house them safely. And frankly, we have to house them. And we should be taking good care of them, and then we should return them back home. That’s what we have to do.
But every time we ask for resources, the Democrats say no. They say no to everything. They’re obstructionists. Because they think that’s good, politically. I think it’s bad, politically. For them, I think it’s bad, politically. We’ll see.
In addition, Democrat and court-ordered loopholes prevent family detention and lead to family separation, no matter how you cut it. I signed a very good executive order yesterday, but that’s only limited — no matter how you cut it, it leads to separation ultimately. I’m directing HHS, DHS, and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and to reunite these previously separated groups.
But the only real solution is for Congress to close the catch-and-release loopholes that have fueled the child smuggling industry. The Democrats are causing tremendous damage, and destruction, and lives by not doing something about this. And they know that. They know that better than anybody up there with a pen.
If we don’t close these loopholes, there is no amount of money or personnel in the world to address the crisis. Very serious crisis. Been going on so long. This isn’t Trump administration. You look back at 2014, during the Obama administration, they have pictures that were so bad. They had a judge that said it was inhumane the way they were treating children.
Take a look at some of the court rulings against the Obama administration. They talked about inhumane treatment. I read them; I looked at them. They’re all over the place. Inhumane treatment. They were treating them terribly. We have a situation where some of these places, they’re really running them well. And I give a lot of credit to Secretary Nielsen and all of the people that have worked this. It’s the nicest that people have seen. But it’s still something that shouldn’t be taking place.
My wife, our First Lady, is down now at the border because it really bothered her to be looking at this and to seeing it, as it bothered me, as it bothered everybody at this table. We’re all bothered by it. But we need two to tango. We have 51 votes in the Senate. We need 60, unfortunately, because we have the ridiculous filibuster rule. So we need 60.
And I think I’ll get four or five or six from senators, frankly, running in states where I won by 25, 30, 40 points with Mike. And I think we’ll get six senators, maybe we’ll get seven senators. That still doesn’t get us to 60. So there’s nothing you can do to get there. And people don’t understand that. When we have a majority in the Senate, we have a majority by one, but we need ten votes.
So we need 10 — essentially, we need 10 Democrats. Not going to get them. They’re told by Schumer and Pelosi, “Don’t do it because we want to see if we can pick up seats.” They don’t care about the children. They don’t care about the injury. They don’t care about the problems. They don’t care about anything. All they do is say, “Obstruct, and let’s see how we do.” Because they have no policies that are any good. They’re not good politicians. They got nothing going. All they’re good at is obstructing.
And they generally stick together. I respect them for that. That’s about it. Their policies stink. They’re no good. They have no ideas. They have no nothing — the Democrats. All they can do is obstruct, and stay together, and vote against, and make it impossible to take care of children and families and to take care of immigration.
We should be able to make an immigration bill that can really solve the problem, not just — this is one aspect of it. This is one very important but small aspect of it. We should be able to do a bill. I’d invite them to come over to the White House anytime they want. This afternoon would be good. After the Cabinet meeting would be good. They are invited, officially. I’ll let you do the inviting. Let the press do the inviting.
But we have to do something about immigration in this country. For 50 years, and long before that, it was a disaster. But over the last 20, 25 years, it’s gotten worse. Every time they write a rule or regulation, it makes it worse, not better. We can solve this problem.
We have to hire thousands of judges. No country in the world is hiring judges like that. They hire border people that — you can’t come into the country. Mexico, by the way, is doing nothing for us. Nothing. They have the strongest immigration laws. They can do whatever they want. They can keep people out of Mexico. You have a 2,000-mile journey up Mexico. They walk through Mexico like it’s walking through Central Park. It’s ridiculous. Mexico does nothing for us.
So then when people say, “Why are you being so tough with NAFTA?” And I am being tough because we — it’s a terrible deal for the United States. Mexico is making $100 billion a year off us and the horrible NAFTA deal. And I am being tough. One of the reasons I’m being tough is because they do nothing for us at the border. They encourage people, frankly, to walk through Mexico and go into the United States because they’re drug traffickers, they’re human traffickers, they’re coyotes. I mean, we’re getting some real beauties.
Mexico is doing nothing for us except taking our money and sending us drugs. They’re doing nothing. They could solve this problem in two minutes; you wouldn’t even have to do anything. But they don’t do it. They talk a good game, but they don’t do it. So we’ll see how that all comes out. It’ll be very interesting to see.
So with that, I’ll end by saying we had a tremendous success in North Korea. We continue to work on that. Mike Pompeo has been fantastic. John Bolton, working together with Mike, has been fantastic. I don’t even know where — there he is. I thought he might have gone back to North Korea. (Laughter.) He spent so much time in North Korea. Surprised to see you here.
But I think I can speak for both of us in saying it’s been an incredible experience. The relationship is very good. They’ve stopped the sending of missiles, including ballistic missiles. They’re destroying their engine site. They’re blowing it up. They’ve already blown up one of their big test sites. In fact, it was actually four of their big test sites. And the big thing is, it will be a total denuclearization, which is already starting taking place.
And I understand, Mike, that they’ve already sent back, or are in the process of sending back, the remains of our great heroes who died in North Korea during the war. And that’s already in the process of coming back.
Plus, as you all know very well, we got back our hostages — our three hostages, who are right now living very happily with their families, and we’re very happy about that. So we’ve made tremendous progress with respect to North Korea, even since I last spoke to you. What we agreed to do is have a meeting. I know that some of the media says, “Oh, they agreed to meet.” Well, yeah, anybody would have agreed to meet, and it would not have been possible for past administrations to have met in the way that we’ve met. This was an incredible, important meeting.
All over Asia, they’re in love with the United States because of what we’ve done. And Japan, I spoke to Prime Minister Abe, and he was so thrilled. He doesn’t have rockets going over Japan. That makes him very happy, General. You know that, right? He’s very thrilled not to see rockets going over Japan. There were plenty of them sent right over Japan, and he said, I want to thank you because what you’ve done is incredible. There are no more rockets going, and there’s no thought of it.
Now, things can change. I said it last night at a speech. Things can change. Personalities can change. Maybe you end up with conflict, maybe you don’t. But the relationship that Mike has and I have with Chairman Kim and his group is a very good one, very strong one. And I think it’s going to lead to tremendous success.
But the document we signed, if people actually read it to the public, you’d see: Number one statement, we will immediately begin total denuclearization of North Korea. Nobody thought that would be possible.
If you remember, a year and a half ago when Mike and I came into office and when this group came into office, everybody was talking about there’s going to be a war — going to be a war with North Korea. During the Obama years, that’s all I heard about: War with North Korea. You have 28 million people, 30 miles away from the border where they have thousands of massive — they call them “cannons.” And that’s what they are. They’re bigger than howitzers. And they’re all aimed at Seoul. Seoul has 28 million people. And it would be not a catastrophe of 100,000 people or 200,000, like I’d read from you. This was a — this could have been a catastrophe of 30-, 40-, 50 million people. And I think we’re very close to having that situation solved. We’ve had some very good news, even over the last couple of days. They want to get it done. We want to get it done. And we’re moving quickly.
So North Korea has been an incredible experience for me, and I — we’re going to help them also get back on track. We think that it has tremendous potential. Chairman Kim thinks it has tremendous potential. I want to also thank, as you know, Prime Minister Abe. I want to thank President Moon from South Korea. He’s been terrific. He’s been really moving it along and pushing as hard as they can. But without the United States, it had no chance whatsoever. I also wanted to thank President Xi of China because the border was very strong during a very critical period. Unfortunately, the border is getting a little bit weaker now, but that’s okay. That’s okay. But we have to get him to keep it tough. But I do want to thank President Xi of China.
So with all of that, we’re having tremendous numbers, tremendous economic success. I think we’re having the most successful period of time, economically, perhaps in our country’s history. GDP numbers have been great, but the ones that are coming out, I’m really looking forward to seeing them. I think you’re going to see numbers — I just see the activity, I see the business. Yesterday and last evening was really — that was an incredible evening that we spent. That was, to me, just an incredible evening. A lot of you were there. I see a lot of the faces. A lot of you were there. At least 15,000 people couldn’t get into the arena. And the arena was big. It held 9,000 people. But sadly, 15,000 people couldn’t get into the arena. But it was a very special evening, and people had a good time. But they also heard a lot.
So I want to thank everybody very much. Mick Mulvaney is going to be giving a little report. You can do it in front of the media. Would the media like to hear Mick Mulvaney’s report, or would you find it extraordinarily boring and therefore not fit for camera? I don’t know.
Q Yes, please.
THE PRESIDENT: Would you like to hear it?
Q Yes, please.
THE PRESIDENT: No, and it will be good. And why don’t we do this? We’ll say grace afterwards, Mike. And we’ll do Mick, and then we’ll say grace. We don’t necessarily have to do that in front of the cameras. Okay?
All right, Mick. Go ahead, please.
DIRECTOR MULVANEY: I’m going to try really hard to make this not boring, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Good.
DIRECTOR MULVANEY: Mr. President, a lot of folks around this table have worked a long time, almost since you took over, to show you what’s — to get you where you are today at this meeting. I call this the “drain the swamp Cabinet meeting.” I know we talked about that during that campaign. You’ve talked about it since you’ve been here. Today is where we’re introducing the actual actions that follow up on those words to show people what we meant when we said drain the swamp. Later on, after the press leaves, we’ll hear from Andrew Bremberg, Administrator McMahon, and, I think, Mr. Hargan on the executive order dealing with civil service reform. And what I’m going to talk about is the government reorganization very, very briefly.
When we got into this, one of the things we learned was that it’s been almost 100 years since anybody really reorganized the government at this type of scale. It’s been since FDR and his New Deal, where he changed the way the government worked. And we haven’t changed it very much since then, which means we’re almost 20 percent into the 21st century, but we’re still dealing a government that is from the early 20th century.
This leads, Mr. President, to some bizarre results. In fact, the stories — you don’t know where to start. Right now, because of the byzantine nature of the way that we regulate in this country, if you have a cheese pizza — you make a cheese pizza — that is governed by the United States Department of Agriculture. No, it’s the other way around. I always get these backwards. If you make a cheese pizza, it’s governed by the Food and Drug Administration. If you put a pepperoni on it, that’s governed by the USDA. If you have a chicken, it’s governed by the USDA. If that chicken lays an egg, it’s governed by the FDA. But if you break the egg and make it into an omelet, that is now covered again by the USDA.
If you have open-face roast beef sandwich, that’s one or the other. But you put the bread on top of it, it’s the other one. A hotdog — the hotdog meat is governed by one. You put it in a bun, it’s governed by another. One of my favorites: If you have a saltwater fish — you have a salmon, and it’s in the ocean, it’s governed by the Department of Commerce. Once it swims up river, it’s governed by the Department of Interior. And to get there, it has to go up a fish ladder governed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This is stupid. (Laughter.) This is just — this makes no sense.
THE PRESIDENT: And by the way, that was incredibly said. Okay? (Laughter.) I think you should put that on television, not what I said. (Laughter.) That was very — that was very good.
DIRECTOR MULVANEY: (Inaudible) dealing with the small businesses. A long time ago, when I was 15 years old, I worked in a freezer for a guy that made frozen pizzas. Right? Put yourself in that guy’s business. And one day he’s making cheese pizzas, and in the afternoon, he’s going to make pepperoni. He’s got an entirely different federal agency to deal with, an entirely different process. It’s not — it doesn’t — it just simply doesn’t make sense. So we’re going to try and fix it.
I want to go through a couple of examples today. I’m going to ask Scott to sort of step aside — to go over just one or two — a couple of them have made the press. We talked about this later about the Department of Education and the Department of Labor being merged. We think that makes tremendous sense because what are they both doing? They’re doing the same thing. They’re trying to get people ready for the workforce. Sometimes that’s education, sometimes it’s vocational training. But we’re all doing the same thing, so why not put them in the same place?
This goes back to the work that, I think, Ivanka did very early on on job training when we learned that we had — and in fact, we don’t even know how many job training programs we have. Some people think it’s 40, some people think it’s 46, some people think it’s 47. We get it down to 16, and we put it all in one place. So that if you’re not happy or the next President is not happy of the way it’s going, you don’t have — right now, 16 different people around this table have workforce training programs in their agencies. If something is going wrong, you’re going to come to me and say, “Mick, why aren’t you doing it right?” I’m going to say, “No, no, no. That’s Scott Pruitt’s fault. That’s Betsy DeVos’ fault.” When everybody is in charge, nobody is in charge. And we’re solving that putting Ed and Labor together, and making them responsible and them accountable.
The other two things I want to talk about — two of my favorites, examples of how we think we can improve things. Everybody, Democrats, Republicans, local government, state government, you, me — from the private sector, I have horror stories about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They perform some absolutely critical functions, Mr. President, there is no doubt about it.
But over the course of the last century, their role has continued to creep, and creep, and creep. And we can do better. So the proposal today, you’ll see, made some important changes to the Army Corps of Engineers. The thing that is — stuff that is really defense — and there is, there’s still things that Army Corps does, in its defense — they stay there. And they should. The things that the Army Corps does that actually help defend the nation will stay where they belong, we just add the Department of Defense.
But when dealing with environment — and a lot of what they do deals with the environment. They deal with environmental mitigation, and so forth. That goes over to the Department of the Interior because you all are really good at that. Similarly, ports — deep-water ports, our lock system — that’s not — it used to be a military thing a hundred years ago. Now, it’s Elaine Chao, Department of Transportation, because it’s a transportation item.
We think it’s a much more efficient layout and it ties in — we’ll let you talk about how that the streamlined on our permitting process. It goes along with what Mr. Zinke is doing at the DOI to try to centralize so there’s one point of contact. You want to get a permit; you’ll go to one federal agency. This is going to help that.
Down here, we talked a little bit about that one food safety thing. Right now it’s at FDA, USDA, a couple of these places. We move all that into the USDA. Why? Because they’re really good at it.
It’s not to say the FDA isn’t, but wouldn’t it be nice to have one place where people can go to, to get answers, to get results, to get permits, and to deal with regulatory affairs? At the same time, in all fairness, and Secretary Purdue would tell you this, there’s things that USDA doesn’t do as well as other agencies. So that’s why Housing — and they have a big housing component — why wouldn’t that be better off at Housing and Urban Development? So we proposed to move that to HUD.
Similarly, for years they’ve handled the food stamp — the SNAP program. That makes absolutely no sense at all. HHS is uniquely set up to handle that. So we’ve moved that and some other means-tested welfare programs over into HHS and to have the — to have it centralized so that we can deal with it.
No one has ever tried it at this scale, Mr. President. President Clinton tried it a little bit. A couple other Presidents have tried it but no one has ever done it at this scale. And importantly, no one has ever followed through on it. No one has ever given a time commitment that these people around the table have given for the last year and a half and no one has ever come up with really big ideas like this. The stuff that President Clinton came up with are peanuts compared to this.
And every time somebody comes to me and says, “Well, that’s okay, this is never going to happen. Yeah, this is great ideas, Mulvaney, but this doesn’t have a chance.” A couple different things to that.
One of the biggest ideas the Department of Education and Labor merger actually doesn’t get involved in jurisdictional battles on the Hill. One committee on the Hill handles those things now. Congress is actually ahead of us on this, which is really difficult to say.
So there’s a chance that we actually can get that done. But even if we don’t get it done now, this is the generational kind of stuff that I think you asked us to do when you came to office.
When Ronald Reagan said that government wasn’t the solution, it was the problem, it took 15 years after that for Bill Clinton to go on TV and say the age of big government is dead. This is a generational thing. Is this going to happen overnight? No. Some of it can because some of this stuff we can do by ourselves on a regularity fashion through the administrative process. Other stuff is going to take longer. But this is the stuff that’s worth fighting for and it won’t get done unless somebody does — takes those first steps, which is what we’re doing today.
So thanks for — thanks for not only for giving us the time to do this but the encouragement to do this because it really helped to go back and say, “Look, push harder. Push harder. This is important to the President.” This is what he talked about when he said, “drain the swamp.” And this is where we can show people that voted for you and even the people that didn’t vote for you that you care about good government and that we’re going to make things a lot better.
So anyway, that’s all I got.
THE PRESIDENT: That was a great job, Mick. I thank you very much. And I think — really terrific, actually. I want you to write down that one little anecdote (inaudible). All right? (Laughter.) Because I think they should give it a big report.
I’d like to ask Secretary of State — who has been incredible, by the way — Mike Pompeo, to give us a little additional update on North Korea. So important.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, two things, Mr. President. Since June 12th — now, a week and day — we’ve made significant progress. Importantly, not only are allies the most directly affected — the South Korean, the Japanese, the Chinese — but a broader circle in that I’ve talked with — the Brits, the Australians, I’ve talked with other Europeans — each of them understands that we have fundamentally set a course that has the opportunity to change humanity. And they’re all onboard. They’re all working. They’re all supportive of our theory of continuing the sanctions until we’re complete. And so we have got a unified world to join Chairman Kim.
I was there. I was there when he said it. He made a personal commitment. He has his reputation on the line in the same way that we do, that says we’re going to create a brighter future for North Korea. We’re going to denuclearize just as quickly as we can achieve that.
And so I’m working hard, Mr. President. Though I’m sure there will be bumps along the way. But I’m confident that we can get the world to unite behind this incredibly important mission.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re doing a hell of a job. I’ll tell you what, he’s — he’s been in a lot of — he’s logged a lot of hours in airplanes going over. It’s a 22, 23-hour flight. And it’s been — it’s been a lot of time — and you really worked good, and we’re very proud you.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mike.
Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. How are you?
Q Thank you, Mr. — I’m great. Thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate you very much. Thank you for saying so. Could I ask you about your message to the immigration — and the bills that they’re looking at on the Hill? What’s your message to lawmakers?
THE PRESIDENT: They got to get together and do something. Honestly, they have to get together. The question is: What’s my message to lawmakers, having to do with immigration? They’ve got to get together and do something. This has been going on for decades. And they have to sit down — I’ll be — certainly, I’m willing to do it. I just told you, I’ll invite Senator Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. They can come over. They can bring whoever they want. But the lawmakers have to sit down and they have to do something because our country cannot continue to run like this.
We can’t have open borders. You have to have borders. You don’t have a country without borders. They have to be enforced. It has to be a strict enforcement. At the same time, we want people to come into our country. We need them. We have many companies, right now, moving back into the United States. They need workers. We have 3.8 percent unemployment. They need workers. We have to have them come in.
You know, I’m saying, I want people to come in. They have to come in through a merit system. But we can have a lot of people come into our country through the merit system so they can help these companies that are looking so hard for people to make the company work.
But the — in a very, very simple way, Congress has to get together, get their act together. Democrats and Republicans. They have to come up with a solution. I have ideas, they have ideas. We can put them together very easily.
There’s so much hatred. There’s so much — I mean, honestly, I’m not saying this — I mean, there’s a lot of false reporting, a lot of misreporting. There’s also a lot of great reporting. But Congress has to come together and this is the best time to do it.
Right now, I think is the best time I’ve seen for people that really are well-meaning. Now, unfortunately, we have an election coming up in a few months and, you know, I guess they’re looking at it and we’re looking at it and maybe we have to just sort of put on the blinders when it comes to doing that.
But Congress has to get together and we have to do something on immigration. It’s very important. We have to change almost everything that’s been done in the past. It’s ridiculous. We are being laughed at as a country because of our bad immigration policies. And you know, we’re a young administration. This has been going on for 50 years, 60 years, 70 years. But it’s gotten worse over the last 20 because laws have been so complex and so ridiculous.
We really don’t have a law. We have laws that don’t allow you to do what you’re supposed to be doing. And we also want to keep it in a very humane way. We want to take care of people. If we don’t take them in, we have to help. And we also need help from Mexico. Mexico has not helped us, and we need help from Mexico. So that’s a long answer, but I also appreciate the great job you’ve done.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Q What about the kids who were already separated?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes?
Q What about the kids who are already separated from their parents?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it. I can’t hear you.
Q The kids who are already separated from their parents.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we want to put them together. We don’t want to have people — we don’t want to have children separated from their parents.
You have to understand, you gave an example yesterday of 12,000 children. Of the 12,000, 10,000 came up either alone — they weren’t necessarily young children, but either alone or they came up with traffickers and coyotes. And these coyotes are bad dudes. But they came up with other people, brought them up. And they used them. They’re using these children. That’s 10,000 out of the 12. Of the 2,000, a lot of the people, well, they came in with their children. This is their third, fourth, fifth time trying to come into our country.
So this is not a perfect situation, this is a very bad — now, port of entry — if you go to a port of entry, it works out very nicely. They’ve been doing a very good job. But they don’t want to come in through the port of entry. That’s called “doing it the legal way.” But many of the people in the 2,000 category, you’re talking about 2,000 children, those are people that have tried to come into our country many times, the same way. They don’t want to go into the port of entry. Usually, that’s for a very bad reason. Why don’t they want to go in legally? So you have to ask yourself that question.
So you have a situation that is ripe for Congress to get together and come up with a solution. And I am ready, willing, and able to help. And ready, willing, and able to take this pen right here and sign very quickly.
Q Zero tolerance still exists, though? Or are you suspending zero tolerance?
THE PRESIDENT: If you took zero tolerance away, you would be overrun as a country. You’d have millions of people pouring through our border. If you took zero tolerance away, everybody would come, right now. They’d be getting their little belongings, unfortunately, and they would be heading up. You would be — you would have a run on this country the likes of which nobody’s ever seen.
So we have to have strong borders. Frankly, the wall, in terms of drugs, in terms of keeping certain people out that we don’t want in this county, the wall is imperative. We have to have the wall. We started the wall. We have $1.6 billion. We’re fixing tremendous amounts of wall where it’s been overrun. But we have to come up with a solution.
I would consider it, whether it’s North Korea, whether it’s so many other things. We have a lot of things. Look, I’ve been given a very tough hand. Because I came up here, we had an economy that was going down. We had an Iran problem. We had a Middle East problem. Take a look at what was going on in the Middle East. It’s a lot better now. You’re a lot smoother right now than anything you heard over the last eight years.
But we were given a lot of bad cards. One of the bad cards, we were given this immigration mess. And it was made worse by all of the different contradicting and the contradicting laws that have been passed.
So we’re going to work very hard with Mike Pence and with everybody else in this room. We’re going to work very hard to see if we can solve the immigration problem.
But we need Democrats to be able to do it. If they’re going to obstruct, it can’t be done because the Republicans don’t have the votes.
Now, I think we’re going to win additional Senate seats. That will help us a lot. But unless we get additional Senate seats, and unless we keep the House more or less like it is right now, you’re not going to be able — unless the Democrats are serious and they want to come along and they want to get immigration work done.
We can do something that’s going to be historic. We can do something that will be historic and we can get it done. I am ready. I’m here. All of these people — these are very talented people — we’re all ready. We’re all here. We need votes from the Democrats or nothing can pass.
Thank you all very much.
12:39 P.M. EDT