WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump has indicated that he could take more radical anti-immigration measures, threatening that he could "close up the country" if Congress does not fund his controversial border wall with Mexico, drawing sharp criticism from a top Indian-American Democrat lawmaker.
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 has also ordered the National Guard to deploy troops to the border to address what the administration calls a "crisis" there.
Addressing his supporters in Cleveland, Ohio, Trump 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 was quoted as saying by CNN.
"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," he said.
President Trump has made it clear that he plans to build an "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall" between the US and Mexico.
The border is about 3,100 km long and traverses all sorts of terrain. Trump says his wall will cover some 1,600 km and natural obstacles will take care of the rest.
Trump claims the total cost of the wall will be USD 10 billion to USD 12 billion. But experts say the cost could be much higher.
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, the network said.