He continued: “We cannot have people flowing into our country illegally, disappearing, and by the way never showing up for court.”
Asked to clarify his comments during a joint news conference, Trump said he is “preparing for the military to secure our border” and he would be attending a meeting on the topic of border security with Mattis and others “in a little while.”
This isn’t the first time there’s been talk of sending US troops to the border.
Under President George W. Bush, a border deployment of the National Guard known as Operation Jump Start started in 2006 and lasted two years. The operation sent more than 6,000 troops to California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to repair secondary border fence, construct nearly 1,000 metal barriers and fly border protection agents by helicopter to intercept immigrants trying to enter illegally.
Still, Trump’s statement took many Pentagon officials by surprise Tuesday, in that they know of his desire to ratchet up border security, but are not sure what he meant exactly, according to multiple Defense Department and military officials.
To fulfill his wishes, border states could send National Guard activated by their own state governors, an issue long complicated by whether the states or the federal government pay for it. Alternatively, the Defense Department could send either active duty or federally activated National Guard. Federal troops require certain documents and regulations, including an operational requirement, a unit identified, a strategy, and, although perhaps not formal, an exit strategy. That option also requires identifying rotational forces.
“If it reaches our border, our laws are so weak and so pathetic — you (the Baltic leaders) would not understand this ’cause I know your laws are strong at the border — it’s like we have no border,” he said.
Trump said he told Mexico “very strongly” that “you’re going to have to do something about these caravans.”
While he said the US is renegotiating the NAFTA trade deal with Mexico and Canada, he emphasized that border security would have to be part of the deal.