Dem rep: Trump is trying to 'demonize' border for 'own political gain'

Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoHispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Senators call on Pentagon to reinstate funding for Stars and Stripes newspaper Hispanic Caucus campaign chief to mount leadership bid MORE (D-Ariz.) said Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE is trying “demonize” the situation at the southern border for his “own political gain” amid a surge of migrant border crossings.

“The problem with people like Donald Trump is that they don’t understand the border, they never lived on the border, they just try to demonize the border for their own political gain,” Gallego told Hill.TV during an interview on “Rising.” 

Gallego was responding to a recent tweet from Trump accusing Mexico and Central American countries like Honduras of doing “NOTHING” to help stop the illegal flow of immigrants.

“Mexico is doing NOTHING to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to our Country,” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “They are all taken and no action. Likewise, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvado have taken our money for years, and do Nothing. The Dems don’t care, such BAD laws. May close the Southern Border!”

Gallego pushed back against Trump’s threat to close the border, saying such a move would need to be approved by Congress and would have a detrimental effect on both the national and local economies.

“For example, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — our biggest trading partner is Mexico," he told Hill.TV. "It’s also people every day from Mexico come shopping to go to school, to use our services and vice versa.” 

The Arizona Democrat also criticized Trump's repeated claims that there is an "invasion" at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"The problem that we have is not that we’re being invaded, the problem is that we have a president that does not know how to manage border policy and is trying to manufacture a crisis at the border to benefit him politically," he said.

Border patrol agents, meanwhile, say they are facing an unprecedented flow of migrant families.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday in El Paso, Texas, that the U.S. immigration system has reached a "breaking point."

“Two weeks ago, I briefed the media and testified in Congress that our immigration system was at the breaking point. That breaking point has arrived this week at our border," McAleenan told reporters.

The CBP chief added that the agency is "now on pace for over 100,000 apprehensions and encounters with migrants in March."

The issue of border security has been a major sticking point for lawmakers throughout Trump’s presidency.

Both the House and Senate recently backed resolutions rebuking the president’s national emergency over his long-promised border wall. However, House Democrats on Wednesday failed to secure enough votes to override Trump’s veto.

—Tess Bonn