When it comes to the border, President Trump has never been particularly empathetic. But a new report from The New York Times sheds some light on just how badly — and violently — Trump wanted to curb immigration. The Times pulled from a forthcoming book on Trump's immigration policy for the details.
The newspaper recounts a particularly contentious March meeting in the Oval Office, where Trump had gathered with some of his top staff to discuss his immigration strategy. What was supposed to be a 30-minute meeting stretched to two hours as the president, increasingly frustrated, ramped up to his ultimate demand: "Shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day," per the Times.
"I've had it," Trump reportedly said. "I ran on this. It's my issue."
The gathered advisers scrambled to back the president off the logistical, legal, and economic disaster that shutting down America's entire southern border would bring. But the Times additionally ran through a number of Trump's other immigration proposals that make suddenly sealing off 2,000 miles of desert terrain seem positively tame, including:
- "fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators"
- having "the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh"
- "publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks"
- pivoting to a plan to "shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down," after being informed that shooting migrants at all was illegal
Other Trump ideas included building a cement wall, rather than the steel-fortified barrier that had already been planned and approved. The Times reported that the immigration standoff eventually led to the ousting of former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as well as most of the other top DHS staff who had tried to restrain Trump's more zealous urges on the topic.
Compared to being impaled atop an electric fence or mauled to death by anti-immigration reptiles, a dismissal by tweet from the White House doesn't seem so bad.