President Donald Trump Tuesday said he planned to use U.S. military forces to protect the nation's southern border with Mexico until there is a border wall and "proper security."
"We are going to be doing things militarily," Trump told reporters at the White House, adding that he had discussed the idea with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. "Until we can have a wall and proper security we’re going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step," he said. "We cannot have people flowing into our country illegally, disappearing, and by the way, never showing up for court."
A defense official who spoke to Military Times on the condition of anonymity had no immediate details as to how many troops would be used, but said the presence could be similar to the 2006-2008 patrols U.S. military personnel conducted under Operation Jump Start in which former President George W. Bush called for up to 6,000 National Guard members to secure parts of the border.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump had said U.S. foreign aid to Honduras and other countries was at risk unless they stopped what he called a "caravan" of more than 1,200 Central American migrants headed to the U.S. border with Mexico on a 2,000-mile (3,200-km) journey from the Mexico-Guatemalan border.
Mexico's government has said such "caravans" of mostly Central Americans, including many escaping violence in Honduras, have occurred since 2010.
Trump has stepped up his immigration rhetoric in recent days and his administration has moved to further crack down on people who are in the United States illegally.