President Donald Trump seemed to float a new idea about border control during a tax reform roundtable in Ohio.
The President was in the midst of criticizing Democrats during a riff about border security when he slipped in the idea that people might “have to think about closing up the country.”
“They don’t want the wall, but we’re going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a while,” Trump said. “We’re going to get the wall. We have no choice. We have absolutely no choice. And we’re going to get tremendous security in our country.”
Trump then mentioned the notion a second time, saying, “And we may have to close up our country to get this straight, because we either have a country or we don’t. And you can’t allow people to pour into our country the way they’re doing.”
It was not immediately clear what Trump meant by the remarks. CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.
Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington said Saturday in an interview with CNN’s Ana Cabrera that Trump “is absolutely out of his mind to think that is any kind of a reasonable solution for our economy or compassionate or in line with our values.”
“This President has done everything he can every time he’s in trouble to turn around and try to turn it against immigrants, and it really deeply saddens me,” Jayapal said.
During the discussion, the President sharply criticized Democrats, including Ohio’s Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, for their opposition to a border wall. Trump said Brown “doesn’t think the way we think” on border security and offered his “full support” for Republican Rep. Jim Rennacci, who is running for the Senate seat.
Trump has escalated his rhetoric against illegal immigration in recent weeks, especially in the wake of an annual migrant caravan that is seeking asylum in the US. He’s also ordered the National Guard to deploy troops to the border to address what the administration calls a “crisis” there.
On Friday, Trump said the southern border is “under siege.” That tweet, however, came a day after his administration released statistics that showed illegal border crossings held steady in April from the month before and and are in line with historical trends.
Trump also told supporters at a speech in Michigan last weekend that if Congress did not meet his funding demands for border security, he may support a government shutdown this fall.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Clare Foran and Laine Mackey contributed to this report.