Trump suggested that troops might shoot immigrants who throw rocks at the border
Another day, another awful story. This one comes courtesy of Donald Trump, who’s sending more than 5,000 troops to the border to prevent immigrants from entering the United States. He noted to reporters that if any of those immigrants throw rocks at troops, the troops will be within their rights to “fight back” (aka they can use their firearms).
A caravan of migrants from El Salvador and Honduras are currently en route to the United States. Many of them are women and children who are fleeing violence in their home countries. Trump, meanwhile, is trying to send the message that these asylum seekers are “very tough fighters” who are planning to “invade” the United States.
During a press briefing on Thursday, Trump pointed to a fight that occurred between immigrants and Mexican authorities at the Guatemalan border. Some threw rocks at the police, who were blocking them from leaving the country. In turn, the police shot rubber bullets and tear gas. Trump said that U.S. troops will potentially respond with firearms if the same rock throwing occurs at the U.S. border.
“Anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico and the Mexican military, Mexican police, where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico, we will consider that a firearm,” Trump said. “Because there’s not much difference — when you get hit in the face with a rock, which as you know, that was very violent a few days ago. Very, very violent.”
When pressed to state that troops won’t shoot, he only said, “Well, I hope they won’t.”
Yup, you read that completely correctly. The president is equating a rock with a firearm. Some military experts weighed in and expressed confidence that troops will not need to use their weapons against immigrants. They also noted that Trump is misusing military resources by sending so many troops to the border.
“Our men and women in uniform are better trained, better equipped, and better led so they meet any threat with confidence,” retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey tweeted. “A wasteful deployment of over-stretched Soldiers and Marines would be made much worse if they use force disproportional to the threat they face. They won’t.”
Michael Hayden, the director Central Intelligence Agency under President George W. Bush, added that the troops use of firearms really isn’t up to Trump’s discretion.
“We will rely on lieutenants at the platoon level to make sure this will not happen,” he tweeted. “God bless lieutenants. The conscience of a nation is riding with you. Security theater does not require the use of live ammunition.”
“Every company and battalion commander will look his lieutenants in the eye and say “I don’t give a **** about what you thought you heard on TV. You will do what you were trained to do and ONLY what you were trained to do,” Hayden added.
While it’s comforting to know there are some adults in the room making sure that the military response is an appropriate one, it’s still horrifying that the president incites violence and speaks the way he does. His hateful rhetoric is never helpful, but especially not in situations that call for calm — and compassion.