U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before departing on a campaign trip on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., November 2, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that illegal immigrants who throw rocks at the military would be arrested, but not fired upon by troops.
He made the remarks to reporters one day after he suggested the military could fire on members of a migrant caravan if they throw rocks at troops.
“They won’t have to fire. What I don’t want is I don’t want these people throwing rocks,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.
“If they do that with us, they’re going to be arrested for a long time,” Trump added.
Trump has hardened his stance on immigration, and specifically against the caravan of migrants, ahead of next week’s congressional elections, in which Trump’s Republican party seeks to maintain control of both chambers.
On Monday the Pentagon said it had deployed more than 5,200 troops to the border after Trump said on Twitter he was sending the military to face off against the migrant caravan, a group of men, women and children traveling through Mexico as they flee violence and poverty in Central America.
Trump said on Wednesday the United States could send as many as 15,000 troops to the border, more than are in Afghanistan.
On Thursday, Trump said his administration was finalizing a plan to require asylum seekers to enter the country through legal ports of entry, although it remained unclear whether such a limitation would be legally possible.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Dan Grebler and James Dalgleish