Trump: Finalizing plan to end ‘abuse’ of U.S. system
WASHINGTON » President Donald Trump said Thursday he intends to take executive action next week to end the “abuse” of the U.S. asylum system, a plan that could include “massive tent cities” at the southern border aimed at holding migrants indefinitely andmaking it more difficult for them to remain in the country.
But Trump offered few other details during remarks at the White House where he reiterated unsubstantiated claims he has made in recent weeks that a caravan of migrants from Central America, traveling north through Mexico by foot, represents an urgent national security threat. He painted the group, which includes many families with children, as dangerous and akin to an “invasion.”
The president’s remarks, carried live on cable news, came just days before Tuesday’ s mid term elections, the latest bid by Trump to make immigration the top campaign issue.
Trump said the emergency steps he plans to take would protect the United States against what he characterized as rampant fraud that threatens to overwhelm the nation’s immigration system.
The president offered no legal rationale for his plan, and he brushed off questions about the legality of some of the methods he suggested could be employed, such as detaining families indefinitely or refusing migrants an immigration court hearing.
Such moves would likely trigger legal challenges from civil rights groups.
Trump also suggested the U.S. military at the border could fire on members of the caravan if the migrants throw rocks at soldiers.
Attorneys at the White House, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice have struggled in recent weeks tomake the president’s sweeping demands to suspend humanitarian protections comport with U.S. laws that protect the right to seek refuge on U.S. soil, regardless of how that asylum-seeker arrives.
“These illegal caravans will not be allowed into the United States,” Trump said. “They should turn back now. They’re wasting their time.”
In a sign that the administration is moving to carry out Trump’s orders, DHS has asked the Pentagon to provide up to 8,000 family detention beds at two sites, an administration official confirmed to The Washington Post on Thursday.
The president and his Republican allies have expressed confidence that Trump’s hard line immigration message will motivate his conservative base as Republicans try to maintain control of Congress. Democrats have accused the president of fanning public fears over a group of migrant fam- ilies that has dwindled and remains 800 miles from the United States.
“The president’s speech was a political stunt aimed at whipping up fear and xenophobia just days before the election,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.
Trump’s vow of a new executive order came after he authorized the deployment of more than 7,000 troops to assist in security operations at the U.S.-Mexico border, the largest peacetime deployment of active-duty troops to the border in nearly a century.
In his remarks, Trump praised the troops, which the Pentagon said would act in support roles to assist U.S. Border Patrol agents, which has the legal authority to make arrests.
Trump claimed that Mexican soldiers were “hurt badly” during clashes with a second group of migrants at the Guatemala border last Sunday. “These are tough people. In many cases, you have young men, strong men,” Trump said.
But the Mexican forces were federal police, not troops, and there were no reports of serious injuries. Asked if the U.S. military would use lethal force, Trump suggested that the troops would be compelled to respond to violent confrontations.
“They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” Trump said. “We’re going to consider — and I told them consider it a rifle.”
President Donald Trump offered few details on how he plans to build “massive tent cities” for migrants seeking asylum.