Troops on the border: Trump ups ante in immigration battle
Until the wall along the border with Mexico can be built, US troops will be deployed to prevent illegal crossings, President Donald Trump has announced.
“Until we can have a Wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” Trump said on Tuesday, at a working lunch with presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the White House.
“We cannot have people flowing into our country illegally, disappearing, and by the way, never showing up for court,” the US president added.
No details were made available about the possible troop deployment. Trump said he had discussed the deployment with US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was present for the talks with the Baltic leaders about bolstering the security along their borders with Russia.
Trump’s electoral promise to build a “big, beautiful Wall” along the southern US border ran into a roadblock last month, when a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill allocated only $1.6 billion towards repairing existing border fences. Many of Trump’s supporters were outraged, accusing the president and his party of caving to opposition Democrats.
The wall became an issue again last week, when a group called “People Without Borders” announced it was organizing a march of over 1,200 Central American migrants through Mexico and into the US. The “caravan” had set out from Guatemala and was in south-central Mexico as of Monday.
“The caravan doesn’t irritate me, the caravan makes me very sad that this could happen to the United States,” Trump said on Tuesday, accusing his predecessor Barack Obama of gutting border enforcement and describing the immigration laws enacted by Democrats as “so pathetic and so weak.”
Mexico began doing something about the caravan after Trump brought up the NAFTA free trade talks, Trump said. There were reported the group was “breaking up” in Mexico.
On Monday, the US Department of Justice set quotas for immigration judges, demanding that they process at least 700 cases per year. There are currently around 650,000 cases awaiting resolution, or 2,000 for every immigration judge.
Trump campaigned on the platform of securing the border with Mexico and reforming the US immigration system. Last year, the White House proposed an amnesty to 1.8 million immigrants in the US illegally in exchange for building the wall and abolishing “chain migration” and the diversity visa lottery. Democrats have denounced the proposal as “racist.”