President warns migrants fleeing violence that ‘the United States has many ways to stop them’ and that they ‘must be stopped’
Donald Trump has warned migrants that they must be stopped as they move through Mexico towards the US border, and insisted the “America First” campaign motto does not have to mean putting US citizens at risk.
“The caravans, they must be stopped,” Trump told reporters during a visit to a Ohio veterans’ memorial on Friday. “These are people who would be coming into our country illegally and then they would have to go through a long process – which they have no chance of winning.
“And if they are going to come illegally, we must stop them because there’s no way that we can continue to allow millions of people to pour into this country illegally.”
The president later tweeted that, “The Caravans are a disgrace to humanity and their members must be stopped before they reach our Southern Border. A #NationalSecurity Issue!”
Lawrence Mireles (@lawrenceireles) Woke up to @realDonaldTrump comments – keep your promises don’t do what you did yesterday and make America less safe with your radical immigration polices but instead act like the “victim” and “give aid to victims” (so the press get the blame!) #TrumpARSE #MAGA
Trump had denounced “ridiculous” laws that allowed asylum seekers to “flood” the border from Mexico.
“We’re going to have a firm policy,” Trump said. “We’re not going to allow people to pour into our country illegally.”
The travel restrictions on asylum applications are officially part of a shift towards deterrence while new laws are put in place to fix the system.
Trump was also asked whether he is considering a military use of force to stop the migrants from heading toward the border.
“I don’t want to discuss that,” he said. “You’ll be talking about it at some point.”
Saturday’s trip to Ohio followed a speech to conservative members of Congress on Thursday night in which Trump revived a central theme of his presidency: his vision for an America that returns to greatness.
He promised to build a wall along the border, cut taxes, restore manufacturing jobs and create jobs for US workers. But as with his earlier rallies this summer, he quickly let Trump-ism meld with the campaign rhetoric and anger directed at a foreign threat – migrants heading to the US.
Trump has not been shy about using the specter of Mexico, and the migrants in particular, as a rhetorical weapon.
In May, his administration deployed troops and imposed strict new rules in a bid to deter asylum seekers from coming to the border. A sweeping executive order was issued soon after, taking effect in late July, taking away hundreds of asylum seekers’ travel documents and allowing the office of the attorney general to deny asylum seekers at the border every time they jump the line.
Such concerns prompted eight governors to travel to Washington to voice support for a Senate bill intended to discourage people from coming to the US illegally.
The group of about 1,000 migrants, travelling from Central America, currently is more than 500 miles from the nearest US border crossing in Calexico, California. On Monday, they are due to arrive in a remote area of Guatemala, where they are expected to continue south to the Guatemalan border town of Chiquimula.
The Obama administration authorised asylum for migrants fleeing domestic or gang violence, but Trump has vowed to tighten the rules and reduce the number of applicants.
Speaking Thursday, the Republican senator Mike Lee raised the possibility of re-instituting blanket protection for asylum seekers. Trump pushed back on that option when pushed on his comments on Thursday, insisting the number of people allowed into the country “will always be, or should always be, thousands”.