Trump pulls back from border closure threats, saying Mexico is cooperating

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE on Tuesday evening pulled back from his threats to close the southern border, claiming that Mexico is now cooperating in apprehending migrants. 

For the "first time in decades," Trump said, Mexico had "apprehended over a thousand people" at its southern border and returned them to their home countries.

“I really wanted to close it. But now Mexico is saying, ‘No, no, no.’ First time in decades. ‘We will not let anybody get through.’ And they’ve apprehended over a thousand people at the southern border, their southern border. And they’re bringing them back to their countries," Trump said during remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual spring dinner.

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Trump earlier in the day shifted away from his threats to close the border this week, saying he would "100 percent" close the border or "close large sections of the border" if Congress didn't pass stricter immigration laws.

"If we don’t make a deal with Congress, the Mexico border’s going to be closed. 100 percent," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "Or we’re going to close large sections of the border, maybe not all of it. But it’s the only way we’re getting a response, and I’m totally ready to do it."

The president's apparent retreat Tuesday evening came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit McConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster MORE (R-Ky.) warned Tuesday that closing the border would have a "potentially catastrophic" impact on the economy.

"We certainly have a crisis on the border. I think the president’s right about that. Closing down the border would have potentially catastrophic economic impact on our country, and I would hope we would not be doing that sort of thing," McConnell told reporters.