Washington, Apr 3 (EFE).- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he plans to order the US Armed Forces to assume responsibility for securing the border with Mexico pending the construction of a wall and adding that the “caravan” of Central American migrants heading northwards through Mexico has been disbanded by Mexican authorities.
“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” the president told reporters at a luncheon for leaders of the Baltic states.
Trump demanded in a series of tweets on Sunday that the caravan be halted.
“If it reaches our border, our laws are so weak and so pathetic – you (the Baltic leaders) would not understand this ’cause I know your laws are strong at the border – it’s like we have no border,” he said at the luncheon, adding that he told Mexico “very strongly” that “you’re going to have to do something about these caravans.”
Trump provided no further details about his plan to use the military to guard the southern border, and it is not clear which military branch or units would be tasked with doing so, although it is currently monitored by immigration agents specifically trained for that job.
Both former Presidents George W. Bush (2001-2009) and Barack Obama (2009-2017) used National Guard troops to guard the border at specific locations, but those measures received criticism at the time due to their cost.
Defense Secretary James Mattis was present at the White House meeting when Trump spoke about his intention to militarize the border.
The president, meanwhile, also wants the Pentagon to help finance construction of his border wall with Mexico, and last week he spoke with Mattis about that issue, according to the Defense Department.
Trump seems to be unhappy with the amount of funding he managed to secure for his keynote project in the recently-passed federal budget, which includes only $1.6 billion for construction of a frontier barrier, albeit with very restrictive conditions on how that money can be used and significantly less than the $25 billion he had asked the Republican-controlled Congress to provide.
To be able to use the Pentagon’s sizable budget for wall construction, however, it would be necessary to “reprogram” the funding granted to the Defense Department for Fiscal 2018, and that would require congressional action, something that would be difficult for Trump to obtain given that he would need 60 votes in the Senate to accomplish it.