Visiting border, Trump says he could close it in 'a day'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE on Friday said he could quickly shutter the U.S. southern border, one day after saying he would give Mexico a “one-year warning” before taking drastic measures to stop illegal immigration.

While visiting a Border Patrol station in Southern California, Trump praised Mexico’s efforts to apprehend migrants from Central America but said he would not be afraid to close down the border if necessary.

“It won’t take a year, it’ll take a day,” Trump said, accusing media outlets of writing “a lot of fake news” about how long it would take for him to make the move.

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On Thursday, the president said “we're going to give them a one-year warning” before slapping tariffs on autos made in Mexico or shutting down the border if Mexico's government does not do more to stem the flow of drugs and migrants.

Trump in those remarks backed off his previous threat to close the border this week, a move lawmakers and business groups warned could inflict significant harm on the U.S. economy.

Yet Trump earlier Friday denied changing his mind about shuttering the border and said he could do so at a later date.

“I never changed my mind at all,” he told reporters as he left the White House. “So Mexico, I have to say, has been very, very good."

Though Trump has sent a series of mixed signals in recent days, he used his visit to California to promote his administration’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, an issue he has put at the center of his 2020 reelection campaign.

He met with Border Patrol and military leaders before touring a section of rebuilt fencing he says is part of his long-promised border wall, even though the project was authorized years ago.

A Border Patrol agent gifted Trump a plaque mounted on a portion of the first 30 feet of wall along the southern border. The agent who presented it, Gloria Chavez, said it was for “number 45” for “proudly defending the American border” and showing “unwavering support for the men and women” on the front line.

“We built a lot of it. It’s better and much more effective than the previous wall,” Trump said later while visiting the new section of border fencing.

The president touted the wall as the answer to stopping illegal border crossings, pledging he would have roughly 400 miles built in the next two years. It is an ambitious goal, given that the 654 miles of existing barriers took years to build while having congressional approval.

Trump is seeking to jump-start construction of his wall by declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress, a move that is being challenged by House Democrats, state attorney generals, including California's, and immigrant-rights groups in federal court.

Nonetheless, the president said the wall and other measures were meant to send a stern message to people hoping to cross into the country illegally.

“They system is full, can’t take you any more,” Trump said, adding that whether it is “illegal immigration” or “asylum” seekers, the answer is “I’m sorry, we’re full.”

The Trump administration has described the situation on the border as a crisis caused by thousands of migrant families and unaccompanied minors showing up each day, overwhelming detention facilities and exacerbating backlogs in immigration courts and asylum proceedings.

“It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen,” Trump said.

During his West Coast swing, Trump is also scheduled to attend a political fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Friday night and speak on Saturday to the Republican Jewish Committee in Las Vegas.

The Washington Post reported Trump will have dinner with his son, Eric, and other supporters at his privately owned golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

—Updated at 5:19 p.m.