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Trump says military will be used to secure border until a wall can be built

President Donald Trump said Tuesday at the White House that “until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military.” (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that “until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military.” Mexico's ambassador to the United States asked for clarification of the president's remarks.

Trump made the comments during a luncheon at the White House for leaders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

“We have very bad laws for our border. And we are going to be doing some things – I’ve been speaking with General [James] Mattis – we’re going to be doing things militarily. 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. We really haven’t done that before, certainly not very much before.”

At a later news conference, Trump reiterated his earlier comments:

“We have horrible, horrible and very unsafe laws in the United States, and we’re going to be able to do something about that, hopefully soon.  . . . We are preparing for the military to secure our border between Mexico and the United States. We have a meeting on it in a little while with General Mattis and everybody. And I think that it’s something we have to do.”

According to Politico, a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security said that the possibility of deploying troops along the border had been discussed, but that Mattis was not in favor of it.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have deployed National Guard troops to the southern border to help with security. Bush deployed 6,000 troops in 2006 to help repair and build portions of border fence, as well as to stop attempted crossings. Obama deployed 1,200 troops in 2010 to help bolster U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s ranks while it dealt with staffing shortages. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry also deployed the National Guard to the border in 2014.

It’s not clear at this point if Trump intends to do something similar.

Trump praised the visiting Baltic leaders for having laws that “are strong at the border,” commenting that in America “it’s like we have no border.”

Trump has also complained on Twitter on Monday about “caravans” of immigrants from Honduras arriving in the U.S. by way of Mexico.

Gerónimo Gutiérrez, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., said in a statement reported by NBC News:

“We have formally requested a clarification on the President's comments from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. We share the idea of having a secure border, but we do not always agree on how to achieve that goal."

President Trump’s plans to include the wall in March’s omnibus spending package were shattered when Congress sent him a bill that only included funding for 33 miles of border fencing, and specified that the fencing could not be made out of concrete.

Since then, Trump has suggested that the wall could be funded through the military’s budget. However, the reallocation of military funds for a project like that would require Congressional approval.

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