On Tuesday, President Trump said that he plans to deploy U.S. troops along the southern border to prevent illegal crossings “until we can have a wall.”
At the White House, Trump told reporters, “Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis sat next to Trump while he made his comments.
The move would significantly escalate the U.S. presence along the frontier with Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol — not the military — is currently tasked with protecting the border.
Trump has recently reverted back to his hard-line stance on immigration. He has backed away from his efforts to compromise with Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Over the past several days, Trump has closed the door to a deal to protect young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.
He called on Mexico to step up efforts to detail illegal border crossers and sounded the alarm about a so-called “caravan” of Central American migrants heading for the U.S. border.
Trump said, “If it reaches our border, our laws are so weak and so pathetic…it’s like we have no border.”
Trump tied the caravan to the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program that he ended last fall. It does not cover, however, the people who crossed the border this year.
After failing to secure $25 billion to build his border wall in a government funding bill, Trump is experiencing pressure from his base to secure a policy win on immigration.
If Mexico does not take steps to stop the flow of immigrants crossing the border illegally, Trump introduced the possibility of pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
On Tuesday, the president claimed the caravan is breaking up “very rapidly” in part because of his threat.
Sending troops the border would be an unusual, but not an unprecedented step.Presidents Obama and George W. Bush both deployed National Guard troops at the border to help stop illegal immigration. The temporary moves came as they were trying to win conservative support for immigration reforms that would allow millions to seek U.S. citizenship.
In 2006, Bush said, “The United States is not going to militarize the southern border. Mexico is our neighbor and our friend.”
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Credit: The Hill