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Pope Francis condemns politicians who want walls to keep migrants out in apparent dig at Trump

The Independent logo The Independent 1/04/2019 Andrew Buncombe

Pope Francis has criticised political leaders who seek to build barriers to keep out migrants, saying they will become “prisoners of the walls they build”.

In response to a questions about immigration in general, and Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the US-Mexico border, the Pope said he could not understand in his head or his heart, how a government could be so cruel to erect razor wire concertina-wired fences to keep out migrants, or prevent migrant rescue boats from docking in ports – something he said he had been told was happening in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.

“This is not the way to resolve the serious problem of immigration. I understand a government has a hot potato in its hands,” he said, according to Reuters. “But it has to resolve it in other ways, humanely.”

Speaking to reporters as he returned to the Vatican from a trip to Morocco, he visited with the north African nation’s small Catholic community, he added: “Builders of walls, be they made of razor wire or bricks, will end up becoming prisoners of the walls they build.”

The Pope spoke after Mr Trump last week threatened again to shut the US-Mexico if authorities in Mexico did not do more to halt the number of asylum-seekers and migrants from Central America passing through its country and heading to the US’s southern border.

“If they don’t stop them, we are closing the border,” Mr Trump said. “We will close it and keep it closed for a long time. “I’m not playing games.”

Data shows the number of illegal or undocumented migrants entering the US has been steadily dropping for several years. In recent months, however, there has been a leap in the number of asylum-seekers presenting themselves to officials and trying to apply for asylum.

Pope Francis et al. that are looking at the camera © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

The Associated Press said US border officials are aiming to more than quadruple the number of asylum seekers sent back over the southern border each day, a major expansion of an effort to address the swelling numbers.

The Pope’s comments were not the first time he has appeared to criticise the US president’s policies, even if he has not named him

He did not mention Mr Trump by name on Sunday. However he said: “With fear, we will not move forward, with walls, we will remain closed within these walls.”

On Saturday, the Pope had discussed the issue of immigration more generally. It is a major issue for a number of north African nations.

Addressing Moroccan leaders, he said the problems of migration would never be resolved by physical barriers but instead required social justice and correcting the world’s economic imbalances.

He said he had wept after a Spanish journalist showed him a piece of concertina wire from the border at Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta.

Pictures: Pope Francis over the years

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