Trump warns he could deploy military to halt migrant caravan
US president says people walking across Mexico ‘are not suitable. I’m not letting them in’
Honduran migrants taking part in a caravan heading to the US, rest during a stop in their journey, in Huixtla, Chiapas state, Mexico, on Tuesday. Photograph: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images
“We’ll have to call up our military if we need to ... we can’t let this happen. We cannot allow our country to be violated like this,” Trump said to reporters in the Oval Office.
Pressed on his unsubstantiated claims on Monday that “unknown Middle Easterners” were among the group, Mr Trump said he had “very good info” that suggested people from the Middle East were there. But he conceded that he had “no proof”.
He said that there was a “very good chance” that there were people from the Middle East in the groups.
“Certainly we have people coming up through the southern border from the Middle East and …they are not suitable. I’m not letting them in. They’re not coming in. We’re doing whatever we have to. We’re not letting them in.”
“I spoke to border control.. over the course of the year, over the course of a number of years they’ve intercepted many people from the Middle East. They’ve intercepted Isis. They’ve intercepted good ones and bad ones. They’ve intercepted a lot of different people, but recently people from the Middle East.”
He reiterated his call for Congress to support his proposed border wall with Mexico, noting that it was not fair that some people “just come running across the border”, when there are plenty of people trying to go through the legal system.
Noting that he is “pretty good at estimating crowd sizes”, he said he believed that 10,000 people were part of the caravans – much higher than the current estimate of 7,000.
Vice-president Mike Pence said he had spoken to President Hernandez of Honduras by phone at the direction of the president, who told him that the caravan had been organised by “leftist organisations and financed by Venezuela”. He said that those people who were attempting to “challenge our sovereignty, challenge our borders, have no value on human life”, noting that the president was “absolutely determined” to ensure that the caravan was turned back.
Mr Trump claimed on Twitter on Monday that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed” into the crowd moving towards the US, dubbing it a “national emergency”.
His claims prompted outrage from Democrats who have accused him of stoking racial tensions ahead of the mid-term elections.
The story is being widely covered on conservative news channels in the United States, pushing the immigration debate front and centre in the mid-term elections campaign.
The group of migrants which has been travelling north from Guatemala, crossed into Mexico at the weekend, meaning they are unlikely to reach America before the elections on November 6th.
Mr Trump also defended his comments at a rally with Ted Cruz in Houston on Monday night, in which he described himself as a nationalist.
Singling out the European Union for what he claimed are unfair trade policies, Mr Trump said” “I don’t like it when Germany is paying 1 per cent of GDP for Nato and we’re playing 4.3 per cent. I don’t like it. That’s not fair,” adding: “I’m proud of our country. I am a nationalist.”