President Donald Trump is declaring all-out war on illegal immigration, telling world leaders and reporters of a plan to put soldiers along the United States’ southern border.
During a Tuesday summit at the White House, the commander-in-chief said he intends to deploy American military forces along the U.S.-Mexico border until a taller, stronger wall can be built. The proposal follows Trump’s harsh condemnation of the Mexican government for allowing a ‘caravan’ of over 1,000 Central American migrants to trek toward the States without consequence.
“We are going to be guarding our border with our military. That’s a big step,” said the president, who was meeting with the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. “We cannot have people flowing into our country illegally, disappearing, and, by the way, never showing up for court.”
Shortly afterward, Politico.com reports, Trump said he was planning to meet Defense Secretary James Mattis “in a little while” to discuss the details of deployment. He didn’t offer any more information on how he’d fund the strategy or justify the use of American troops for border patrol.
However, Trump’s phrasing did suggest the plan has moved from being a far-flung fantasy to a real consideration.
“The Mexican border is very unprotected by our laws,” he said. “We have horrible, horrible and very unsafe laws in the United States, and we’re going to be able to do something about that, hopefully soon. We are preparing for the military to secure our border between Mexico and the United States. We have a meeting on it in a little while with General Mattis and everybody. And I think that it’s something we have to do.”
Nevertheless, Politico says some unnamed officials at the Department of Homeland Security were skeptical of the plan’s implementation. Deployment has been discussed, they say, but hasn’t been given a deadline – Secretary Mattis supposedly opposes the measure.
If that’s the case, Mattis isn’t the first among the administration’s top brass to stand up to Trump. As Polito.com recounts, Trump’s current chief of staff, John Kelly, downplayed the president’s early remarks on border security being a “military operation” in 2017.
“I repeat: There will be no use of military in this,” Kelly, then serving as homeland security secretary, told reporters in Mexico City. “At least half of you try to get that right, because it keeps coming up in your reporting.”
Administration officials were quick to point to former President Barack Obama’s use of National Guard reserves along the border in 2010.
Democratic lawmakers were predictably quick to lash out. Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego – a former Marine himself – called the plan “an insult to our troops” that could “harm our military as an institution.”
“Congress,” said Gallego, “must stop this misguided scheme.”
And misguided it may well be – while compiling accurate tallies of illegal immigrant populations within the United States isn’t an easy task, research skews toward the supposition that net migration from Mexico onto American soil has declined over the past several years.
The oddball scheme – certainly not the first to emerge from this White House – has had some Republicans scratching their heads, too.
“These people should be stopped at the border and vetted out, just the normal process,” said Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL). “I would rather have dealings with immigration be handled in a civil context rather than a military one.”