US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he "would love" to force a partial government shutdown due to lack of funding if congressional Democrats do not accept the conditions he has set for reforming the country's immigration system.
"If we don't change the legislation, if we don't get rid of these loopholes where killers are allowed to come into our country and continue to kill ... if we don't change it, let's have a shutdown," Trump said during a meeting at the White House about gang violence, including the violent Mara Salvatrucha gang, Efe reported.
"I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of," the president added, going on to say "If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety - and unrelated but still related, they don't want to take care of our military - then shut it down. We'll go with another shutdown."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump was not lobbying for a shutdown.
"We are not advocating for the shutdown," she said upon being asked about Trump's remarks, going on to blame congressional Democrats for any such problem, saying that it would be "the fault of the Democrats not being willing to do their jobs."
However, she said that although "the president wants a long-term deal and he wants to get a deal on immigration," if Democratic lawmakers do not cooperate in approving a budget, Trump would welcome a political fight involving a shutdown.
The federal government could virtually grind to a halt once again at midnight on Thursday if Republican and Democratic lawmakers cannot agree on a budget.
Two weeks ago, Democrats rejected the administration's budget because it did not include a solution for the so-called Dreamers, young undocumented migrants brought to the US as children.
The minority party agreed to reopen the government until February 8 in exchange for debating in Congress an immigration plan to aid the Dreamers.
In late January, Trump proposed to Congress an immigration reform package creating a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young undocumented migrants in exchange for $25 billion to build a wall along the border with Mexico and strengthen border security, as well as making a series of changes to the country's legal immigration system.
But the president's proposal has received a cold reception from Democrats and he has reiterated that he will not accept any plan that does not include funds for the wall and address his other priorities.