President Donald Trump has suggested several cruel military tactics on the border, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. Like the administration’s migrant detentions, these ideas show Trump’s complete inability to lead with anything other than senseless violence.
White House aides apparently looked into a cost estimate for a trench alongside the border wall filled with snakes or alligators, because it was something Trump had mentioned frequently. Another idea that Trump had was to make the wall both electrified and topped with spikes “that could pierce human flesh,” the Times reported.
The medieval moat idea might seem creative at first glance, but unfortunately, he’s invented something that already exists. The Rio Grande, which spans much of the U.S.-Mexico border, has snakes and alligators in it. In 2018, Border Patrol agents posted a video of an alligator swimming in the river near Eagle Pass, Texas. And the idea to weaponize the terrain against migrants? That’s something Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have focused on too.
Trump’s desires for the wall clearly expand beyond both geographical reality and human rights guidelines. He was reportedly upset when aides nixed his suggestion that border guards shoot migrants in the legs “to slow them down.”
Trump also told Kevin McAleenan, the chief of Customs and Border Protection at the time, that he wanted to ban every single migrant from crossing the border, the Times reported.
They described a meeting with Trump with former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Border Patrol agents.
Start turning away migrants at the border, he told them. My message to you is, keep them all out, the president said. Every single one of them. The country is full.
After the president left the room, Mr. McAleenan told the agents to ignore the president. You absolutely do not have the authority to stop processing migrants altogether, he warned.
Trump was apparently “happiest” with Nielsen when U.S. border agents fired tear gas into Mexico as people tried to cross the border. “Mr. Trump loved it,” the Times reported.
He also apparently preferred to talk about the border and not anything else. He snapped at Nielsen when she mentioned a need for new legal guidelines over drones: “Kirstjen, you didn’t hear me the first time, honey,” Trump reportedly said. “Shoot ’em down. Sweetheart, just shoot ’em out of the sky, O.K.?”
Later, he told her he wanted a border wall made out of cement.
“Sir,” she said, “I literally don’t think that’s even possible,” Nielsen reportedly answered, telling him it wouldn’t work logistically, and besides, the contracts for steel barriers had already been finalized.