President Trump on Tuesday said that the U.S. will secure the southern border with the military until a wall can be built, calling the move a “big step.”
Trump made the remarks during a meeting with Baltic leaders, where he said he had discussed the matter with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. A White House official revealed later Tuesday to Fox News that the plan considered by Trump would be a “substantial” mobilization of the National Guard.
“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” he said. “That’s a big step, we really haven’t done that before, or certainly not very much before.”
At a news conference later, he confirmed the plan, saying the border is unprotected by “our horrible, horrible and very unsafe laws.”
“We don’t have laws, we have catch-and-release,” he said. “You catch and then you immediately release and people come back years later for a court case, except they virtually never come back.”
Trump did not offer specifics, but the move appears to be at least partly motivated by a caravan of over 1,000 Central American migrants heading toward the U.S. border. Buzzfeed, which first reported on the caravan, said that Mexican officials had not yet attempted to stop the flow.
In Tuesday’s discussion, Trump and senior officials “also agreed on the need to pressure Congress to urgently pass legislation to close legal loopholes exploited by criminal trafficking, narco-terrorist and smuggling organizations,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. She added that Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary Kirsten Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Chief of Staff John Kelly were among the other officials present.
Reports of the caravan angered Trump, who has sent out a number of tweets threatening to end the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and to cut foreign aid to countries such as Honduras, from where many of the migrants originate.