President Trump said Thursday that he hopes the military troops being deployed to the United States’ southwestern border will not have to fire upon any migrants attempting to enter the country through Mexico, but warned that if any rocks are thrown from across the border “we will consider that a firearm.”
“They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” Trump said. “I say, consider it a rifle.”
White House sources had told reporters that Trump would announce a new immigration policy aimed at restricting entry for asylum seekers at the southwest border in an address from the White House Thursday afternoon. But the president outlined no concrete policy changes, instead referring vaguely to plans for the construction of “massive cities of tents” to house migrants with pending asylum claims “for a long time if necessary.”
He pledged to end the “catch and release” practice of paroling refugees with credible asylum claims into the population. “We’re gonna catch, we’re not gonna release,” he said, claiming that just “3 percent” of asylum seekers return for court hearings on their claims. The actual number, according to Justice Department figures, is between 60 and 75 percent.
He said he planned to issue an executive order on the subject, but didn’t say what it would consist of.
For the most part, Trump simply amplified many of the same unsubstantiated claims that he’s been airing at rallies and on Twitter over the past two weeks about a caravan of mostly Honduran migrants slowly making its way through Mexico.
“It’s like an invasion,” Trump said, describing the thousands of migrants who, as of earlier this week, were still at least 1,000 miles away from the nearest U.S. point of entry, as a violent and imminent threat to the country.