On Thursday, President Donald Trump said he’d order soldiers along the border to shoot migrants who throw rocks.
“I will tell you, anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico and the Mexican military, Mexican police, where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico, we will consider that a firearm, Trump said while announcing impending changes to immigration policy.
POLITICO reports that Central American migrants constituting a ‘caravan’ briefly clashed with Mexican and Guatemalan border officials at the two countries’ border. At least six officers were injured in the ensuing violence.
Soon afterward, Mexico pledged to treat the migrants with humanity. A ‘metered’ approach was taken, in which officials allowed the caravan to proceed across the border in small groups.
Originating in Honduras, the caravan is estimated to be some 800 miles from the Rio Grande.
Illegal immigration affects the lives of all Americans. Illegal Immigration hurts American workers, burdens American taxpayers, undermines public safety, and places enormous strain on local schools, hospitals and communities…https://t.co/eN1IqPNBJY
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2018
Rock-throwing has been an intermittent issue along the border and has several times prompted American agents to fire across the boundary.
President Trump justified his authorization to U.S. troops by saying “there’s not much difference” between getting shot with a rifle and hit by a rock.
“They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” Trump said. “We’ll consider—and I told them—consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”
Trump already ordered an estimated 5,200 soldiers to the border this week. On Wednesday, the commander-in-chief said he’s inclined to increase that number to 15,000. As POLITICO notes, the troops aren’t expected to participate in law enforcement operations but will be armed nonetheless.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s use-of-force handbook says that agents shouldn’t open fire in response to “thrown or launched projectiles” unless they believe themselves to be in “imminent danger” or at risk of “serious physical injury or death.”
Trump, writes POLITICO, added that the administration would detain any migrants it encounters along the border. Members of the armed services will purportedly construct ‘tent cities’ to enable mass detention efforts.
“We’re putting massive cities of tents,” Trump said. “The military is helping us incredibly well… We have thousands of tens, we have a lot of tents, we have a lot of everything. We’re going to hold them right here, we’re not letting them into our country.”
Critics have accused Trump of using the migrant caravan to service his own political approaches. The president has frequently accused Democrats of supporting ‘open borders’ and has made immigration policy a centerpiece of his midterm campaign.
“Republicans want strong borders, no crime, no chaos, and no caravans,” Trump said. “Democrats want open borders, and they want to invite caravan after caravan into our country, which brings crime upon crime.”
In the past, Trump has accused the caravan of being comprised of “criminals,” “bad guys” and “Middle Easterners.”
To date, the president has offered no evidence to substantiate any of his claims.