WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told reporters during a roundtable event on Wednesday that he is “going to have to call up more military” to the southern border, adding to the administration’s attempts to address a historic increase in the number of migrant apprehensions.
“I’m going to have to call up more military. Our military, don’t forget, can’t act like they would normally act because if they got a little rough, everybody would go crazy,” Trump told reporters in San Antonio, Texas, a city with so many military bases in the area that it’s been given the nickname “Military City, USA.”
“They have all these horrible laws that the Democrats won’t change, they will not change them. And I think they will pay a very big price in 2020 for all of the things,” Trump said. “I think the border is going to be an incredible issue.”
The President’s call to add more troops to the southern border comes after the Department of Homeland Security released data on Tuesday which confirmed that last month Border Patrol apprehended more people on the southern border than any month since 2008.
Department of Homeland Security officials have said the influx of migrants has led to a breaking point for their agency. This week it was announced that the agency’s leader, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, as well as her second-in-command, acting deputy Claire Grady, would be leaving the department.
Amid the influx, Trump last week floated the idea of closing the southern border before changing his mind.
There have been thousands of American troops deployed to the southern border over the last year. At its peak, some 5,900 trooped were there as part of the border mission, which has involved surveillance, aviation support and the placement of concertina wire between ports of entry.
Though a plan to add more troops to the border has not been announced, acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan was summoned to the White House late Tuesday to discuss the situation at the southern border shortly after his return from Colorado, according to two US defense officials.
On Wednesday, Shanahan seemed to telegraph something could be coming with troops traveling to the border when he was asked whether he envisioned multi-year deployments to the border will last longer than 2019.
“That’s one of the things that the Chairman (of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and I have talked quite a bit about and I’m continuing conversations. I am going to work very closely with the new acting secretary (of the Department of Homeland Security),” Shanahan said. “What I would say is as the situation there deteriorates, it’s pretty elastic in terms of demand on us, so I would expect shortly here to have another request for assistance.”