US President Donald Trump reportedly suggested that soldiers shoot migrants who crossed the border in the legs as part of efforts to curb unauthorized entries from Mexico.
During an Oval Office meeting in March, Trump was told this was not permissible and that his proposal for soldiers to shoot migrants who throw rocks was also illegal, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Trump also reportedly ordered that the entire border with Mexico be sealed off by the next day and berated top aides who tried to temper his proposal, saying he ran in 2016 on the issue.
“You are making me look like an idiot!” he was quoted as saying.
According to the report, Trump had privately discussed digging a moat along the border that would be filled with alligators or snakes, as well as electrifying the wall and installing spikes on top capable of piercing flesh.
Among those at the meeting who earned Trump’s ire were his son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“All you care about is your friends in Mexico,” Trump reportedly told Kushner, who had cultivated ties with Mexican government officials since joining the White House.
Though Trump soon walked backed his call for the border to be sealed, the report said he responded by ejecting aides who sought to restrain him, most notably Nielsen.
Nielsen frequently pushed back on some of Trump’s ideas, telling him, for instance, that painting the wall “flat black” would cost $1 million per mile and that accelerating construction of border wall would require the permission of property owners.
Trump reportedly responded that the government should seize the land and if the property owners wanted they could sue.
Besides Nielsen, who left the administration shortly after the meeting, Trump also pushed out the undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the head of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Trump acknowledged to The New York Times that he seriously weighed closing the border but said such an action would have been “very severe.”
He also lamented US immigration law, saying “we can have 100,000 of our soldiers standing up there — they can’t do a thing.”
Trump made cracking down on illegal immigration a key element of his 2016 presidential campaign platform.
In 2018, he launched a “zero tolerance” policy that saw more than 2,300 children separated from their parents at the border, before the government backed down amid a massive public outcry.
The United States is facing a migration crisis on its southern border with Mexico, where tens of thousands of people from Central America cross every month.
AFP contributed to this report.
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