Trump Authorizes Use of Lethal Force for Troops Along US-Mexico Border
HUSTON, TEXAS – November 23, 2018
Donald Trump has authorized US troops guarding the border against migrant caravans to use deadly force if necessary. His memo on the matter comes amid the ongoing controversy over the costly deployment of around 5,900 active-duty troops to the southwestern border, announced by Trump eight days before the midterm elections during a period in which the president was seeking to inject fears over immigration into the campaign.
Earlier this week, Trump authorized the military to use its rules of engagement, rather than those of domestic law enforcement agencies, at the border, as the Secretary of Defense determines are “reasonably necessary” to protect border agents, including “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention, and cursory search.”
And that’s not all: Speaking to reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, the President said on Thursday that he also signed an order to close the US border with Mexico, adding that he’s authorized troops to use lethal force against migrants who attempt to enter the US.
“If they have to,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, claiming that at least 500 criminals are among the migrants trying to enter the US. "So I’m not going to let the military be taken advantage of. I have no choice. Do I want that to happen? Absolutely not. But you’re dealing with rough people."
Trump also said that he would welcome a partial shutdown of the government over “border security.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reinforced the president's message in a statement Thursday, saying: "The caravans will not be permitted to enter the United States. There are real dangers to the safety and human rights of migrants from those who would prey on them."
According to Bloomberg, Trump signed the order two days ago and that "I’ve already shutdown parts of the border," warning that the entire border may be closed if the conflict with migrants escalates.
Trump said he will entirely close the border — to people and trade — if Mexico doesn't stop migrants from trying to come into the United States.
"If we find that its uncontrollable,” he said, “if we find that it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control."
"The whole border,” he clarified. "I mean the whole border. And Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many cars at great benefit to them, not at great benefit to us."
Still, details are missing as the White House hasn’t released the order and Trump wasn’t clear about his directive.
The military deployment to the southwestern border will cost an estimated $210 million, according to a Pentagon report to Congress obtained by the Associated Press. This includes $72 million for the 5,900 active-duty troops plus $13 million so far for 2,100 national guard troops who have been carrying out a separate border mission since April.
Democrats including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Beto O’Rourke have written to Mattis requesting information about Trump’s decision to deploy the troops. They highlighted a New York Times report that indicated that Pentagon officials view the deployment as “an expensive waste of time and resources, and a morale killer to boot.”
Trump, who has been frustrated by congressional refusal to provide funding for the border wall he promised to build between the United States and Mexico, has repeatedly portrayed migrants fleeing Central America as an invading force.
Most Democrats and some Republicans oppose the border wall, and House Democrats' victory in the midterms means he is less likely to get the money he is seeking.