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US President Donald Trump makes remarks on the illegal immigration crisis and provides an update on border security at the White House.
Image: picture-alliance/C. Kleponis
Politics

Trump threatens to shoot stone-throwing migrants

November 2, 2018

Ahead of next week's elections, US President Trump said he will sign an order to bar anyone who illegally entered the US from claiming asylum. He also hinted he would let the military shoot at people throwing stones.

https://p.dw.com/p/37XXx

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he plans to sign an order next week to require asylum seekers in the United States to come into the country through a legal port of entry.

The move could also lead to a large-scale detention of migrants crossing the southern border.

"Migrants seeking asylum will have to present themselves lawfully at a port of entry," Trump told reporters at the White House.

US parties target young voters

"Those who choose to break our laws and enter illegally will no longer be able to use meritless claims to gain automatic admission into our country," he said without going into the specifics.

US immigration laws make clear that any immigrants in the United States may apply for asylum, regardless of whether they enter the country through a legal port of entry. It was not clear whether Trump's executive order would pass legal muster.

Critics immediately lashed out at Trump's latest attempt to decry immigration for political advantage, accusing him of stoking fear and energize his political base ahead of the midterm elections on November 6.

Under the planned executive order, migrants who do enter the country through a legal port would be housed in "massive tent houses" while their cases are processed.

"We're going to catch, we're not going to release," Trump said. Under existing protocol, many asylum seekers are released while their cases are heard in immigration courts — a process that can take years.

Rocks vs. rifles

Trump has ramped up his tough stance on illegal immigration in recent days, specially targeting a Central American caravan of migrants making its way through Mexico to the US' southern border. He labeled the caravan's effort an "invasion." 

Mexico on Wednesday put the size of the caravan that left Honduras in mid-October at 2,800 to 3,000 people. Other caravans, also made up of people who have left poverty and violence at home, have since followed.

Trump has already ordered over 5,000 troops to secure the border from the approaching caravans.

On Thursday, the US president said he had told the US military mobilizing at the border to treat rock-throwing by migrants as equivalent to gun usage.

"They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We're going to consider, and I told them to consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military police, I say: Consider it a rifle," Trump said.

More women than men in caravan

Fear mongering

Critics said Trump was stoking fear ahead of the elections, in which his Republicans are battling to maintain their congressional majorities.

"President Trump's attempt to paint peaceful families seeking asylum as a national security threat is as absurd as it is cruel," said advocacy group Human Rights First in a statement. "The president is fear mongering to score political points ahead of a contentious election at the expense of people's lives."

Greg Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said Trump was "trying to scare the American public into thinking these are thousands of dangerous thugs."

"It's a classic strategy that goes back to 19th-century nativist thinking," he said.

Earlier in the week, Trump pledged to scrap the constitutional guarantee of citizenship for anyone born in the US.

Read moreWhich countries grant unconditional birthright citizenship?

ap/bw (AP, Reuters)

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