Photo via iStock/ AlxeyPnferov
President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration obsession reached new heights on Tuesday, when he suggested sending American military forces to police the U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump’s latest comments came during a public meeting with the presidents of three Baltic countries, during which he offered no further explanation about when, where, or how many soldiers may be deployed to America’s southern border.
“We have horrible, horrible and very unsafe laws in the United States,” Trump said, according to the New York Times. “We are preparing for the military to secure our border between Mexico and the United States.”
From the moment he announced his candidacy, Trump has harped on what he claims is an immense threat from undocumented immigrants, using racist rhetoric to scapegoat people from across Latin America, with repeated attacks on people specifically from Mexico, El Salvador, and most recently, Honduras.
Building on his repeated calls for the construction of a wall across America’s southern border, Trump has targeted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act, moving to end the program last year and threatening hundreds of thousands of undocumented residents with deportation. Furthermore, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have become more emboldened under the current administration, making frequent raids in immigrant communities while using controversial tactics to detain and deport thousands of people.
This week, Trump picked up on conservative media talking points about a caravan of Honduran immigrants moving through South America on their way to the U.S. border. Holding strong to the story, Trump took to Twitter, threatening to cut off the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if the caravan was not “stopped.”
“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there,” he posted on Tuesday. “Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!”
But even as Mexican authorities stopped the Honduran immigrants from moving further north, Trump used yesterday’s public meeting to once again call for action on the Mexico crossing, this time suggesting that military forces could soon occupy the southern border.
“We have very bad laws for our border, and we are going to be doing some things — I’ve been speaking with General Mattis — we’re going to be doing things militarily,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday morning, according to the Times. “Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step. We really haven’t done that before, or certainly not very much before.”
In fact, Trump would not be the first president to deploy the National Guard to serve as extra security. In 2010, President Obama sent over 1,000 soldiers to the border, while President George W. Bush employed 6,000 soldiers in a similar capacity in 2006.
Update: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated Wednesday that the Trump administration is working to deploy National Guard troops to the border as soon as Wednesday night.