President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the US military will be used to guard the US-Mexico border.
“We are going to be guarding our border with our military. That’s a big step,” Trump told reporters gathered at the White House. “We cannot have people flowing into our country illegally, disappearing, and by the way never showing up for court.”
The President’s comments appear to take aim at current US policy which requires border agents to catch then release family units who arrive at the border from noncontiguous countries.
He also said he had spoken with Secretary of Defense James Mattis about the use of the military to guard the border.
In recent days, Trump has repeatedly tweeted about a caravan of illegal immigrants making their way from Honduras to the US border via Mexico. The President had threatened to end the NAFTA agreement if the Mexican government did not stop the caravan and to end U.S. aid to Honduras.
Mexican authorities responded to Trump’s Sunday threat to kill NAFTA by pledging to disband the caravan and allow some transmitters to apply for asylum in Mexico. The organizers, however, said many members of the group will continue marching north towards the US-Mexico border where, if they claim asylum and are with a family unit, they legally must be released into the interior of the country.
Later in the press spray, Trump claimed that “nobody has been tougher” on Russia than his his administration.
“We’ll find out whether or not we do. If we could all get along, that would be great, and that includes China and includes many other countries,” POTUS explained. “But we will see what happens. Only time will tell,” he said. “Pretty much everybody agrees to that, except very stupid people.”
Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration (INM) said late Monday that it plans by Wednesday to disband a caravan of hundreds of Central American migrants that has been traveling through Mexico for nine days.
Caravan organizers said, however, they expect at least some of the migrants to continue north to the US border. They estimate that most of them will seek asylum or some type of protection in Mexico or the US.
"At the end of the day these people have the right to ask for asylum,” said Gina Garibo, one of the organizers for Pueblos Sin Fronteras, the volunteer group that organized the caravan.
She denied the caravan was over. "We have to follow through with our promise" to help people gain asylum in the United States or Mexico, she said. Migrants would continue moving but in smaller groups than the caravan.
Another organizer, Alex Mensing, called the Mexican action a victory for the caravan, saying organizers had successfully persuaded the Mexican government to allow caravan members to apply for asylum in the United States and Mexico.
“Don’t be fooled, the government isn’t ‘disbanding’ it, it’s conceding its participants’ right to apply for asylum without traveling in the shadows,” he said.
Still, hundreds of the migrants are expected to accept Mexico's offer to allow the most vulnerable among them to stay. A federal delegate with INM who gave only his last name, Rodríguez, told BuzzFeed News that humanitarian visas would go to vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, people with disabilities, or people with chronic illnesses like HIV.
Everyone else will have to petition the Mexican government to stay in the country or they will be ordered to leave, he said.