Trump says he will put U.S. military on southern border

President Trump said Tuesday that he plans to deploy U.S. troops along the southern border to prevent illegal crossings “until we can have a wall.”

“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we are going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Defense Secretary James Mattis was sitting next to Trump when he made his comments.

Such a move would significantly escalate the U.S. presence along the frontier with Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol — not the military — is tasked with protecting the border.

Trump has recently reverted back to his hard-line stance on immigration, backing away from his efforts to compromise with Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Over the past several days, the president has closed the door to a deal to protect young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children, called on Mexico to step up efforts to detail illegal border crossers and sounded the alarm about a so-called “caravan” of Central American migrants heading for the U.S. border.

“If it reaches our border, our laws are so weak and so pathetic…it’s like we have no border,” Trump said.

Trump tied the caravan to the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program that he ended last fall, even though it does not cover people who crossed the border this year.

The president is coming under mounting pressure from his base to secure a policy win on immigration, after he failed to secure $25 billion to build his proposed border wall in a government funding bill.

Trump even floated the possibility of pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico does not take steps to curb the flow of immigrants crossing the border illegally.

The president on Tuesday claimed the caravan is breaking up “very rapidly” in part because of his threat.

Sending troops the border would be an unusual, but not unprecedented, step.

Presidents Obama and George W. Bush both deployed National Guard troops at the border to help stop illegal immigration. The temporary moves came as they were trying to win conservative support for immigration reforms that would allow millions to seek U.S. citizenship.

“The United States is not going to militarize the southern border,” Bush said when announcing the deployment in 2006. “Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend.”

[The Hill]

Reality

A defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity had no immediate details as to how many troops would be used, or what authorities they would have, but said the presence could be similar to the 2006-2008 patrols U.S. military personnel conducted under Operation Jump Start.

In that operation, President George W. Bush called for up to 6,000 National Guard members to secure parts of the border. Eventually 29,000 military personnel from all over the country were involved in the mission, which had a projected cost of around $1.2 billion in then-year dollars.

In 2012, President Barack Obama deployed Army forces from Ft. Bliss to the Tucson, Arizona and El Paso, Texas areas for Operation Nimbus, a joint operation between U.S. Northern Command and Customs and Border Patrol.

Trump just called off a deal on DACA

On Sunday, a little more than an hour after tweeting “HAPPY EASTER!” to his 49.8 million followers, President Donald Trump appeared to call off a major immigration deal.

“Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!” the president wrote, in part, referring to the Democrat-led initiative to protect the children of unauthorized immigrants from deportation. That was the first tweet, which seemed to call for the end of the filibuster in the Senate to pass tougher immigration laws and for the end of negotiations to get a deal on DACA.

The other two — where the president declared that people in Mexico were laughing at America’s immigration laws, and suggested that the international trade deal NAFTA might have something to do with that — seemed designed to further stoke traditional conservative fears that surround immigration.

These tweets are mostly typical rhetoric for Trump: He’s prone to suggesting that more immigration will lead to more crime and violence despite decades of evidence that more immigration does not correlate with more crime and may actually lead to less crime.

The DACA part, however, is new. Previously, Trump actually threatened to veto a budget deal — and shut down the government — in part because it didn’t include a deal on DACA recipients. Now he’s saying prospects for a deal are done.

Trump seems increasingly frustrated his agenda isn’t moving forward

According to a recent report from the Washington Post, the president has been frustrated that his proposed wall at the US-Mexico border hasn’t gotten much traction — lately, he’s turned to privately lobbying for the military to pay for it. As Tara Golshan explained for Vox, the military likely won’t be able to take up Trump’s request, because the money it’s been given by Congress is allocated for specific programs that aren’t the wall.

Trump’s new tweets also appear to come in response to reports that a huge caravan of Central Americans is making its way through Mexico to the US. The group is reportedly fleeing poverty, violence, and political unrest in the region, hoping to get asylum once they make it to America — although some have said they’ll cross the border illegally if necessary.

It’s unclear how federal officials will ultimately respond to the caravan. But Trump, at least, is using the moment to push for tougher immigration laws.

[Vox]

Trump Tweeted Pictures Claiming “The Start” Of His Border Wall, But It Was Actually An Old Project

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted that he had been briefed about “the start of our Southern Border WALL” and included pictures depicting construction for the project, but there was one slight problem with the announcement.

The images tweeted by the president were not of his long-promised wall, but a months-long project to replace existing portions of a wall along Calexico, California.

The project, which started in 2009, will replace a 2.25-mile section in the California-Mexico border wall, according to a statement last month from US Customs and Border Protection.

The original wall in that section, built in the 1990s, had been built from recycled metal scraps and old landing mat materials, the agency said.

“Although the existing wall has proven effective at deterring unlawful cross border activity, smuggling organizations damaged and breached this outdated version of a border wall several hundred times during the last two years,” CBP said.

The project will replace the old wall with a 30-foot-high, bollard-style structure.

A DHS official told BuzzFeed News that Trump did meet with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan on Wednesday afternoon, but did not provide details of the briefing.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s tweet, or his briefing with DHS officials.

[Buzzfeed]

Trump’s border wall proposal is exactly what Ann Coulter pitched on Fox News Saturday night

On March 25, President Donald Trump released a cryptic tweet proposing to use funds dedicated to national defense to build a wall along the southern border, a plan conservative commentator Ann Coulter had proposed hours earlier on one of Trump’s favorite Fox News shows, Justice with Judge Jeanine.

On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted:

The tweet was widely interpreted as a proposal to use military funding to build a border wall, a proposal Coulter had made the night before on Justice with Judge Jeanine. The show’s host, Jeanine Pirro, is a longtime friend of Trump’s and has earned a special place on his watch list through her fawning coverage.

JEANINE PIRRO (HOST): What can the president do? What can the president do as commander-in-chief?

ANN COULTER: Look, on the day after his inauguration, it’s his authority under the Constitution that cannot be taken away from him by any legislature, by any court — I’m quite confident the Supreme Court would uphold this — to defend our borders. I mean, he has — the last war that had a declaration of war from Congress in it was World War II, and we engage in a lot of military actions around the world. I think it can be done right on our border as part of the defense. Have the Seabees do it. But if he needs to —

PIRRO: OK, so where does he get the money? Where does he get the money to build the wall that you can say he can build as national defense. Where does he take the money from?

COULTER: The same place Reagan took the money to invade Grenada. The same place he took the money to bomb Syria. He has money to spend on national defense, and this is a much bigger problem of national defense. This is our people being attacked with chemical warfare, not allegedly Syrians.

 

[Media Matters]

Media

Trump touts $1.6B for wall funding, blasts ‘Dem giveaways’

President Trump marked the $1.3 trillion budget agreement Wednesday night by touting funding for a wall on the southern border while blasting “Dem giveaways.”

“Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming,” Trump tweeted.

Most importantly, got $700 Billion to rebuild our Military, $716 Billion next year…most ever. Had to waste money on Dem giveaways in order to take care of military pay increase and new equipment.”

Trump also added that, “Democrats refused to take care of DACA. Would have been so easy, but they just didn’t care. I had to fight for Military and start of Wall.”

The Trump administration ended DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — last year. The program protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.

[New York Post]

Reality

From Daily Kos.

Donald Trump is trying to sell the spending bill as a victory for his precious border wall. As is so often the case, he’s lying and the real question is whether he’s lying more to himself or more to the rest of us. Trump tweeted that “Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming.” In reality:

… Democrats pointed out that only $641 million of that money is designated for 33 miles of “new fencing or levees” ― specifically not a concrete wall. The rest of the money is for repairing or replacing existing fencing or border security technology.

Not just Democrats, though:

“Are we going to continue to fund sanctuary cities? Are we going to continue to fund Planned Parenthood? Are we going to continue to raise the debt to levels that quite frankly are unsustainable and bankrupt our country?” [House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows] said. “There is really no wall funding. People will try to spin it as there is wall funding, but the [$1.6 billion] has been in there for some time.”

Trump says he rejected Mexico request about border wall

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he rejected a demand from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that Trump say Mexico would not have to pay for a proposed U.S. border wall.

At a campaign rally in western Pennsylvania for a Republican congressional candidate, Trump gave some details of a testy phone call he had last month with Pena Nieto that led to the postponement of plans for the Mexican leader’s first visit to the White House.

Trump brought up the issue when the crowd started chanting “Build that Wall.”

Trump called Pena Nieto a “really nice guy” who made his request respectfully.

“He said, ‘Mr. President, I would like you to make a statement that Mexico will not pay for the wall,'” Trump said.

“I said, ‘Are you crazy? I am not making that statement,'” Trump said he replied.

When Pena Nieto said yes, Trump said he told him, “Bye, bye. There is no way I’m making that deal.”

Officials in Pena Nieto’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s remarks.

The Mexican leader’s visit to Washington has yet to be rescheduled. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, traveled to Mexico City last week to try to smooth over the tensions.

Trump is set to visit a prototype of his long-sought wall in the San Diego area on Tuesday.

[Reuters]

Peña Nieto calls off visit to White House after confrontational call with Trump

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has called off an official trip to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump after a tense phone call brought the two leaders to a policy-driven standstill.

Peña Nieto was tentatively planning the trip for March, a White House official said, but the official confirmed to CNN that the trip was put on hold following the phone call, which took place on February 20.

According to The Washington Post, which first reported the cancellation, officials from both countries told the paper that Peña Nieto “called off the plan after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall.”

A White House official told CNN that any meeting would be awkward and counterproductive given Trump’s vow that Mexico would pay for the wall.

The official said the call was “less hostile” than the one that occurred between the two leaders a year ago, but “no more productive” than that call either.

At least one Mexican official, who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity, said Trump “lost his temper.” US officials described the President as being “frustrated and exasperated, saying Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall.”

According to the Post’s report, the two leaders “devoted a considerable portion” of this year’s call to discussing the wall.

According to the paper, officials from both countries confirmed that Peña Nieto’s “desire to avoid public embarrassment — and Trump’s unwillingness to provide that assurance — that proved to be the dealbreaker.”

[CNN]

Trump uses Egypt attack to plug border wall, immigration restrictions

In denouncing the terror attack on a mosque in Egypt, President Trump on Friday renewed his calls for for tighter immigration screening in the U.S, and a wall along the border with Mexico.

Trump said he would Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi “to discuss the tragic terrorist attack, with so much loss of life,” adding on Twitter: “We have to get TOUGHER AND SMARTER than ever before, and we will. Need the WALL, need the BAN! God bless the people of Egypt.”

Egyptian state media reported that at least 235 people died and more than 130 were injured during an attack on a Sufi mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai region, the deadliest attack ever on Egyptian civilians by Islamic militants.

Earlier Friday, Trump tweeted: “Horrible and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent and defenseless worshipers in Egypt. The world cannot tolerate terrorism, we must defeat them militarily and discredit the extremist ideology that forms the basis of their existence!”

In a readout after the call, the White House said Trump offered his condolences to the people of Egypt after the “heinous attack” on worshippers. Trump “reiterated that the United States will continue to stand with Egypt in the face of terrorism,” the statement said. “The international community cannot tolerate barbaric terrorist groups and must strengthen its efforts to defeat terrorism and extremism in all its forms.”

Trump has used previous terror attacks to promote immigration restrictions that are the subject of many political and legal disputes.

The administration’s proposed ban on immigration from six Muslim majority countries has faced a number of legal challenges. And congressional Democrats have moved to block funding for the proposed wall on the nation’s southern border.

Democrats said the nation has long screened immigrants in an effort to block potential terrorists, and they have accused Trump of making his proposals to keep Muslims and Hispanics out of the United States.

[USA Today]

Reality

Trump proposes a border wall with Mexico to keep out Egyptians and a Muslim ban that does not include Egypt as solutions to prevent terrorism after a terror attack at a mosque in Egypt.

After border agent is killed and partner injured in Texas, Trump renews call for wall

Authorities were searching southwest Texas for suspects or witnesses after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner injured Sunday while on patrol in the state’s Big Bend area, officials said.

Agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were “responding to activity” near Interstate 10 in Van Horn, Tex., when both were seriously injured, according to a Customs and Border Protection news release.

Martinez’s partner called for help. Other agents arrived, provided medical care and took them to a hospital.

Martinez died of his injuries; his partner, who was not identified, remained in the hospital in serious condition, officials said.

Martinez, a 36-year-old from El Paso, had been a border agent since August 2013.

Jeannette Harper of the FBI’s El Paso field office told the San Antonio Express-News that authorities were still gathering evidence. She said reports that the agents were shot were not true, but that a full account of what happened wouldn’t be released until Monday.

“They were not fired upon,” Harper said.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesman declined to offer any further details about what happened.

But a National Border Patrol Council labor union official said Martinez may have been killed in a rock attack.

Art Del Cueto, the union’s vice president, said he has heard from other Border Patrol agents that Martinez and his partner were believed to be responding to an electronic sensor that had been activated.

Del Cueto said he was told that Martinez and his partner apparently did not sustain bullet or stab wounds — so he suspects the pair may have been attacked with rocks, which are commonly thrown at agents working in that area.

“It’s heartbreaking; it’s truly heartbreaking,” he told The Washington Post on Monday in a phone interview.

President Trump appeared to connect Martinez’s death to border security and plugged his plans for a border wall Sunday night on Twitter.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said, without explanation, that Martinez and his partner were “attacked” and also linked the incident to security on the border with Mexico.

“This is a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them,” Cruz tweeted. “I remain fully committed to working with the Border Patrol to provide them with all the resources they need to safeguard our nation.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) offered his condolences to the victims’ families.

“Our prayers are with the families of this Border Patrol Agent who was killed & the other who was injured in this attack in Texas,” he wrote on Twitter. “Our resources must be increased to prevent these attacks in the future.”

The FBI in El Paso is leading an investigation into the incident, along with the Culberson County Sheriff’s Department and Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

The acting secretary of homeland security, Elaine Duke, said in a statement that she learned of Martinez’s death Sunday morning, and offered her agency’s full support to “determine the cause of this tragic event.”

“On behalf of the quarter of a million front line officers and agents of DHS, my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Agent Martinez and to the agent who is in serious condition,” Duke said.

The area where the agents were injured is a dusty stretch of highway about 100 miles east of El Paso.

It is part of Customs and Border Protection’s vast Big Bend Sector, which covers 135,000 square miles in Texas and Oklahoma and 510 miles of river border. The sector’s Van Horn Station, near where Martinez died, covers 15 miles of the Mexico border.

The Big Bend Sector accounted for 1 percent of the roughly 61,000 apprehensions Border Patrol agents made along Texas’s southwest border between fall 2016 and spring 2017, as the Associated Press reported.

Local media photos from the scene showed Border Patrol trucks and about a dozen other unmarked vehicles parked along the side of the road, and a group of law enforcement agents huddled together.

Thirty-eight Customs and Border Protection agents have died in the line of duty since 2003, according to the agency’s memorial page.

Before Martinez, the only other agent to die in 2017 was Isaac Morales, who was stabbed in a bar parking lot in El Paso. Three agents died in 2016, two of them in car accidents, one of a heart attack while on bike patrol.

[Washington Post]

Reality

Trump had jumped to conclusions without available evidence, fanning the flames of racism by blaming Mexicans when we don’t know what happened yet.

For example, in Culberson County, where the two officers were injured, the local sheriff painted a different picture, suggesting to the Dallas Morning News that investigators are considering the possibility that the agents fell into the culvert in a nighttime accident.

“The evidence is not obvious as to what happened out there,” Sheriff Oscar Carrillo told the paper.

Trump Urged Mexican President to Help Him Keep Up Border Wall Scam

President Donald Trump boasted about his election victory, pressured his Mexican counterpart to remain quiet about a border wall and called New Hampshire a “drug-infested den” in a phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, according to a transcript of the conversation revealed on Thursday by The Washington Post.

The transcript of Trump’s conversation with Mexico’s leader was one of two phone calls revealed on Thursday, which provide a rare glimpse into the private conversations of a new US president testing his negotiating powers on foreign counterparts.

The January 27 phone call with Peña Nieto came seven days after Trump entered office. In it, he focused mainly on issues of trade and immigration, with contentious moments coming in his insistence that Mexico will eventually pay for a wall along with US southern border. Peña Nieto has insisted publicly his country will not pay for the wall’s construction, but Trump demanded he cease making that claim.

“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said on the phone call. “The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that. You cannot say that to the press because I cannot negotiate under those circumstances.”

A day later, Trump carried out a phone conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, which grew sour when Trump rejected an agreement to take in refugees. The transcript shows Trump growing progressively more agitated, eventually telling his Australian counterpart the call was the most irksome of the day.

“I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day,” Trump told Turnbull. “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.”
Trump later ended the phone call abruptly.

The two conversations show a President still working through the complicated nature of bilateral US relationships, often suggesting to his counterparts that he had campaign promises to fulfill in his early days in the White House.

Trump ran for office promising to build a Mexican-funded wall along the southern border. But since taking office, Trump has said that the US will pay for initial construction, with reimbursement from Mexico coming later.

In his conversation with Peña Nieto, Trump said he was willing to say publicly that he and Mexican authorities would continue to negotiate over the wall’s payment, which he said “means it will come out in the wash and that is OK.”

But he maintained his insistence that Peña Nieto remain quiet about the issue.

“You cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall,” he said. “I am just going to say that we are working it out. Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important talk about.”

Asked to comment on the transcripts, Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said only that he “can’t confirm or deny the authenticity of allegedly leaked classified documents.”

[CNN]

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