Trump defends tough stance in border policy

LAS VEGAS • President Donald Trump defended his tough stance on immigrants crossing the United States border with Mexico, praising his administration for a job well done and saying that his approach will make the US stronger.

Mr Trump, who was in Las Vegas on Saturday to lend support to Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, a Republican who is facing a stiff challenge to re-election, has been under fire over a policy that separates children from their parents when they illegally cross the US border with Mexico.

Amid a fierce outcry, Mr Trump reversed himself last Wednesday and signed an executive order to abandon the policy. But the fate of more than 2,300 children already separated from their parents before the order was enacted is unknown.

"My people are actually doing a very good job," Mr Trump said in a speech at the Nevada Republican Party state convention at Suncoast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Mr Trump said that with a 3.8 per cent jobless rate, the US needs immigrants for jobs that need to be filled, but he wants them to be legal immigrants.

"We need people to come in, but they have to be people that love this country, can love our country and can really help us to make America great again," he said.

On Saturday, Mr Trump also defended his proposed tariffs against Chinese products and his threat to impose tariffs against European allies, and said that he will raise the issue once again of whether Nato allies are spending enough on defence at a Nato summit in Brussels next month.

Addressing the Senate race in Nevada, where Democratic Representative Jacky Rosen is challenging Mr Heller, Mr Trump took aim in his convention speech at a favourite Democratic target, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who was campaigning with Ms Rosen elsewhere in the state.

Mr Trump revived a derogatory nickname for Ms Warren, "Pocahontas", and said he had a nickname for Ms Rosen as well: "Wacky Jacky".

Mr Trump and Mr Heller had a rocky past.

They clashed in the early months of Mr Trump's presidency over a proposed healthcare revamp, but the two men now get along well, with both wanting to maintain Republican control over the US Senate in the November congressional elections, in which Democrats are projected to make gains.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2018, with the headline 'Trump defends tough stance in border policy'. Print Edition | Subscribe