Trump threatens to 'close the border permanently' amid heightened tensions

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorsi sues Mueller for alleged leaks and illegal surveillance Comey: Trump 'certainly close' to being unindicted co-conspirator Trump pushes back on reports that Ayers was first pick for chief of staff MORE on Monday urged Mexico to deport Central American migrants who are attempting to reach the U.S. and threatened to permanently shut down the southern border.

"Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!"

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The president's tweet came the morning after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents clashed with a group of migrants who rushed the southern border.

CBP on Sunday shut down the busy San Ysidro port of entry near San Diego as the migrants approached. Tensions flared further when dozens of migrants broke away from a larger group to try and cross the border.

CBP said in a statement that officers fired tear gas into the crowd after attempted illegal crossings and after some migrants threw rocks at border agents.

Photos quickly circulated on Twitter of women and children fleeing the tear gas, providing a stark contrast to Trump's repeated claims that the group of migrants is filled with "criminals" and "thugs." 

Hundreds of migrants have been camped out in Tijuana, Mexico, as they wait to enter the U.S. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Trump has said those migrants will remain in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed by the U.S.

The president has for weeks painted the caravan of Central American migrants as an imminent security threat. He has vowed to close down the border, deployed thousands of troops to the border in anticipation of the groups arrival and signed a proclamation blocking certain immigrants from claiming asylum.

A federal judge last week blocked the proclamation.

UPDATE 4:13 p.m.: Trump later spoke with reporters on the White House lawn about the incident as he set out for a campaign rally in Mississippi.

The president against suggested the border could be closed as he insisted members of the immigrant caravan would not be let into the United States.

"We've during certain times, as you know, closed the border. They're not coming into the United States. They will not be coming into our country," Trump said.

Asked if he was comfortable with the use of tear gas at the border, Trump said authorities at the border were forced to do so.

"They had to use because they were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas. And here's the bottom line: nobody's coming into our country unless they come in legally," he said.