President Donald Trump stressed on Thursday that he had given authorization to troops sent to the U.S.-Mexico border to use lethal force in order to prevent migrants from entering the country.
“If they have to, they’re going to use lethal force. I’ve — I’ve given the OK. If they have to. I hope they don’t have to,” he noted, adding that if need be, he would also order that the entire southern border be closed.
“If we find that it gets to a level where we’re 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,” he said.
The President’s comments come only a day after White House chief of staff John Kelly signed a Cabinet order allowing some troops to engage in law enforcement activities and use lethal force. Troops may “perform those military protective activities that the Secretary of Defense determines are reasonably necessary,” reads part of the order, which details what “protective activities” include.
Apart from lethal force, troops can do “crowd control, temporary detention, and cursory search” as part of the “protective activities” they are to perform.
At the beginning of this month, about 5,800 active duty troops were sent to the southern border by the Pentagon after President Trump ordered it to stop the South American migrant caravan from entering the country and seeking asylum.
Trump has since then maintained that some of the members of the caravan are criminals or belong to gangs, remarks echoed by some officials in his administration.
“Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!” he tweeted.