President Donald Trump said Thursday the military will respond with force to anyone in the migrant caravans who attacks soldiers with rocks or other objects.
At least 5,000 members of the military, and perhaps as many as 15,000, are being dispatched to America's southern border ahead of multiple caravans that are coming up from Central America.
"We're not going to put up with that; they want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back," Trump said during a White House press conference about immigration. "I told them, consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle."
It is not exactly clear when the migrant caravans will arrive at the U.S. border, but Trump said the military and Border Patrol will be ready to process them.
Trump also addressed the asylum policy in the U.S., which currently allows people to ask for asylum whether they enter the U.S. legally or illegally. The Border Patrol puts them in the system and releases them into the U.S., with the promise the migrants will appear at a hearing — which is often two years or more later.
Trump said he will sign a comprehensive executive order next week that will overhaul the asylum process, which will include holding asylum-seekers in facilities near the border until their cases are heard. That, he said, would prevent them from fleeing and never showing up at court.
The order will also require asylum-seekers to come to the U.S. at an official port of entry, rather than illegally crossing the border.
"Asylum is not a program for those living in poverty," Trump said. "There are millions of people in the world living at the poverty level. The United States cannot possibly absorb them all. Asylum is a very special protection, intended only for those fleeing government persecution based on race, religion, and other protected status."
Trump said families will remain together in tents and other structures the Army Corps of Engineers is currently putting together while their asylum cases play out.
"We are holding so many people that our facilities are being overrun," he said. "And we are putting up temporary facilities, eventually people won't be coming here anymore when they realize they can't come through."
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