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White House: Closing the border 'isn't our first choice'

The White House on Tuesday said it has begun studying options to close down different parts of the U.S. southern border, but expressed hope the drastic move could be avoided.


“Eventually, it may be that it’s the best decision that we close the border,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters, while adding that “this isn’t our first choice.”

Sanders said President Trump “is not working on a specific timeline” to decide whether to close down the border with Mexico, as he threatened to do last week.

But she said the White House Council of Economic Advisers has begun studying the impacts of shuttering certain entry points in anticipation of briefing Trump on his options.

“We’re looking at all options when it comes to closing the different ports of entry,” she said.

Trump’s threat to close down the U.S.-Mexico border in order to stop illegal immigration sparked alarm from congressional Republicans and Democrats, who warned it could deal a serious blow to the U.S. economy.

Sanders said Trump “certainly doesn’t want to hurt” economic growth, but added that his “No. 1 job as president is to protect life, to protect Americans.”

“Democrats are leaving us absolutely no choice at this point,” she said.

But congressional Democrats and some Republicans have blasted Trump’s proposals for addressing the growing number of migrants entering the U.S., including the border blockade and cutting off aid to Central American countries, as too extreme.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday called them “two of the worst ideas” and said closing down the border “is an applause line, not an idea.”

Sanders expressed hope the Mexican government would continue to apprehend migrants traveling from Central American countries and housing a certain number of people seeking asylum on the U.S. on their side of the border “so that we don’t have to” take drastic action.

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