President Trump on Friday walked back an earlier comment that troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border would treat rock-throwing by members of the migrant caravan as shooting.
When asked by reporters outside the White House Friday afternoon if he was advocating the military use firearms to respond to people throwing rocks, Trump said, “No, no, no, no, no.”
“But if our soldiers or Border Patrol or ICE are gonna be hit in the face with rocks, we’re gonna arrest those people. That doesn’t mean shoot them. But we’re going to arrest those people quickly and for a long period of time,” said Trump.
“Because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock,” Trump said.
The Pentagon, which is deploying 5,200 troops to the southern border to help federal law enforcement in support roles, told the Washington Examiner it would not comment on “hypothetical situations.”
The Mexican and Guatemalan governments have separately confirmed violent incidents as both caravan groups have tried to physically push their way into Mexico as police guard the border.
“That was very violent a few days ago. Very, very violent. That break-in, it was a break-in to a country, they broke into Mexico,” Trump said Thursday.
The first of the two caravans from Central America arrived at the Guatemala-Mexico International Bridge in mid-October. The group filled the entire bridge and attempted to push through to Mexico. Police unleashed tear gas and smoke canisters, injuring an unspecified number of migrants.