President Donald Trump said Saturday that American officials are strongly considering shutting the U.S.-Mexico border amid concerns over the coronavirus.
When asked at a press conference if he was considering closing the border, Trump answered in the affirmative, Reuters reported.
“We are looking also at southern border,” Trump said. “We have received a lot of power on the southern border over the last couple years from the courts, but we are looking at that very strongly.”
Earlier on Saturday, Reuters reported, citing two Department of Homeland Security officials, that Trump was considering taking action at the border. However, despite seemingly confirming the reporting, Trump later downplayed his statement, saying that officials are “thinking about all borders.”
Vice President Mike Pence also announced during the press conference that the U.S. would impose new travel restrictions against Iran, South Korea, and Italy.
Pence said the U.S. was “expanding existing travel restrictions to include any foreign national who has visited Iran within the last 14 days,” while raising the travel advisory against the hardest hit areas of South Korea and Italy to a Level 4 “Do Not Travel.”
Lawmakers have also expressed concerns about the U.S.-Mexico border after Mexico confirmed multiple coronavirus cases.
More from Reuters:
A group of 11 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives led by Chip Roy of Texas sent a letter on Friday to top Trump administration officials that pressed for details on the plan to contain the coronavirus at the border with Mexico.
“Given the porous nature of our border, and the continued lack of operational control due to the influence of dangerous cartels, it is foreseeable, indeed predictable, that any outbreak in Central America or Mexico could cause a rush to our border,” the lawmakers said.
A group of three Republican senators led by Martha McSally, of Arizona, sent a similar letter on Friday to the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Meanwhile, health officials in Washington state confirmed Saturday that the first American had died from the coronavirus, while there was potentially an outbreak of the virus at a nursing home in Washington state.