WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump said Tuesday he wants to use the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border until his promised border wall is built.
Speaking at a lunch with Baltic leaders, Trump said he’d already discussed the idea with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
“We are going to be guarding our border with the military,” Trump said, calling the measure a “big step.”
The president said he told officials in Mexico about the plan. “I said, ‘Look, your laws are very powerful. Your laws are very strong. We have very bad laws for our border and we are going to be doing some things.”
Tuesday’s remarks follow roughly two days of the president blasting the current state of immigration policy in the United States.
On Monday, Trump compared border security in Mexico and Canada to the U.S., saying the nations had “tough immigration laws, whereas ours are an Obama joke. ACT CONGRESS,” he tweeted.
Trump also discussed a caravan from Central America that is reportedly moving through Mexico. The migrants, largely from Honduras, are said to be planning to turn themselves into authorities once reaching the U.S.-Mexico border.
The president tweeted about the caravan early Tuesday morning, warning they “had better be stopped.”
During the meeting, Trump told leaders they “would not understand” the current predicament.
“If it reaches our border, our laws are so weak and so pathetic – you wouldn’t understand this because I know your laws are strong at the border,” he said. “It’s like we have no border.”
“We cannot have people flowing into our country illegally, disappearing and by the way, never showing up for court,” Trump told guests at the luncheon.
Military guards along the border wouldn’t be a novel idea.
Former President Barack Obama sent nearly 1,200 members of the National Guard to the border in 2010, and asked Congress for an infusion of $500 million to foot the bill for enhanced border security. Guards were also deployed in 2006 during President George W. Bush’s term.
A representative of the Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.
David Ray, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told Courthouse News Tuesday that the president’s decision would be a boon for both “national security and public safety.”
“Democrat leaders in Congress have refused to budge an inch on many much-needed fixes, including funding the border wall, targeting sanctuary cities and enacting bills to lock illegal immigrants from stealing American jobs,” he said. “Our immigration policies are clearly vulnerable to exploitation and this is the result: the country is ill prepared to face a border surge that is reportedly marching this way now.”
The military would “help address the immediate crisis,” Ray said.
“In the end, Democrats are going to have to be willing to act on immigration reform,” he said. “By sitting on their hands and refusing to become part of the solution, Democrats have made themselves the primary problem.”