It's clear that Donald Trump has no problem dehumanizing immigrants in public, but the things he says in private are allegedly even worse. According to a new report from the New York Times detailing a March meeting in the Oval Office, President Trump suggested that Border Patrol agents shoot people attempting to cross the US border from Mexico in the legs as a way to slow their progress.
The Times shared that Trump spoke with his advisors on border security, saying he was fuming over losing face after running on a platform that involved building a wall between Mexico and the US. Their piece, which covers a week following a tense meeting with Trump, reveals that the president has considered several options for slowing people trying to cross the border. Those options include moats and electrified fences with flesh piercing spikes.
“Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. ... he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down.” https://t.co/4IkJJsQRB2— Andrea González-Ramírez (@andreagonram) October 1, 2019
The March meeting was a flashpoint in particular because Trump ordered a full shutdown of the Mexico-US border. Worried about the catastrophic economic damage that such a move would cause, the potential stranding of American citizens in Mexico, and the chaos it would cause in border cities, Trump's advisors worked for a week to try and talk him out of it.
“You are making me look like an idiot!” Trump yelled during the meeting. “I ran on this. It’s my issue.”
Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen attempted to reason with the president, telling him that even a closed border couldn't stop people claiming asylum. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner sided with Nielsen, but the president was unmoved.
“All you care about is your friends in Mexico,” he reportedly said. “I’ve had it. I want it done at noon tomorrow.”
Trump's advisors did manage to slow-walk the idea to the point that Nielsen had a week to try and turn Trump around. While the order to shut down the border was never carried out, Nielsen's attempts to sway Trump cost her her position and led to an era dominated by the policies of white nationalist advisers like Stephen Miller. It's no coincidence that, since that point, cruelty as official policy has become all the more apparent.