Donald Trump laughed out loud and joked during a Florida rally on Wednesday when a supporter suggested that migrants be shot at the border to decrease the numbers entering the country.
Trump was ranting about an influx in migrants crossing the border seeking asylum to a crowd in Panama City at one of his ego feeding rallies. He stated that it was “crazy” that migrants seeking asylum get to see judges. He then added that there were only “two or three border security people who are brave” and that are forced to deal with “15,000 people marching up.”
Trump went on to ask those in attendance how to “stop these people,” and one of his supporters close to the stage shouted: “Shoot ‘em!”
The entire crowd broke into laughter and applauded. Trump grinned from ear to ear. He said nothing to condemn the statement but instead stated, “That’s only in the panhandle you can get away with that statement, folks. Only in the panhandle!” Trump then stepped back from the microphone and smirked at the still laughing crowd.
Trump has not publicly endorsed using guns to deter migrants from crossing the border, but he did tell Sean Hannity during an interview that it would be a “very effective” approach.
Panama City Beach was an area that helped Trump win the state of Florida in the 2016 presidential election.
Just before the interruption, Trump had mentioned that Border Patrol was not permitted to use weapons on migrants.
“I mean, when you have 15,000 people marching up, and you have hundreds and hundreds of people, and you have two or three border security people that are brave and great – and don’t forget, we don’t let them and we can’t let them use weapons. We can’t. Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that,” he said.
Trump was referring to the rules Border Patrol agents must follow before using force. New use-of-force rules were put into place back in 2014. Those rules limit when weapons can be fired and or used.
Border Patrol cannot shoot at moving vehicles that don’t pose a deadly threat, or purposely place themselves in the path of moving vehicles and they must avoid situations in which they have no alternative to using deadly force against rock throwers.
The Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection also publicly released the full text of their use-of-force policies, which had been secret until a copy was leaked to the media.
It did not take long for Twitter users to share their outrage at Trump’s response to his supporter calling for migrants to be shot.
The campaign’s Deputy Director of Communication and Rapid Response Matt Wolking replied to a number of Twitter users discussing the incident, sending a transcript that excludes part of the president’s reaction to the outburst. He tweeted that Trump said he “would never let” border security use weapons like “other countries do.”
In November, Trump suggested that the U.S. troops that he deployed could fire on migrants who threw rocks. Later that same month the White House approved a memo that authorized troops to use “lethal force” on migrants when deemed necessary.
At that time Trump stated that “If they have to, they’re going to use lethal force. I’ve given the OK,” Trump said. “If they have to — I hope they don’t have to. have no choice,” Trump said, and, without providing evidence, added, “You’re dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals” and “rough people.”
Trump’s response, or we should say lack of a real response, provided an endorsement to the audience member’s call. As president, heck as a human being, he should have spoken out against the call for the murder of human beings, especially those who’ve already gone through so much in their journey for a better life.
Sadly, it comes to no surprise that Trump did not provide the right response or defend migrant rights.