Donald Trump wanted to bring in 250,000 troops to the border wall to help secure the U.S. southern border with Mexico during the pandemic, but the idea was struck down due to concerns from then-Homeland Security Secretary Mark Esper, a Tuesday report reveals.
During spring 2020, Trump wanted more than half the active duty Army, which makes up one-sixth of all U.S. forces, to deploy to the southern border, according to The New York Times.
This would have been the largest use of military force within the U.S. since the Civil War.
The plan, which was originally put together by Trump’s immigration aide Stephen Miller in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, enraged Esper, Homeland Security officials familiar with conversations revealed.
Donald Trump (left) wanted to send 250,000 troops to mitigate the southern border in spring 2020 – during the onset of the pandemic – but DHS Secretary Mark Esper (right) was vehemently against it
Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s immigration agenda, first had the idea – but didn’t push it when Esper wanted to ditch the plan to bring about half to Army to the border
Miller was the architect of Trump’s immigration agenda.
Esper believed, according to the unnamed sources, that bringing such a large number of troops to the border would compromise military readiness around the world.
In the midst of the raging pandemic, which was still new at the time, Miller urged DHS to develop a plan to send troops to seal the 2,000-mile border the U.S. shares with Mexico.
Trump himself made claims during that time that ‘tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border’ and that troops were needed.
Chad Wolf, who served as acting secretary of homeland security at the time, told the New York Times the agency was working on ‘worst-case scenarios’ of what they would need to completely shut down the US-Mexico border, but no formal appeal was ever filed to the Defense Department.
It’s unclear who came to this conclusion, whether it was the Pentagon or DHS, but it was decided to secure that land mass it would take a quarter million troops.
As part of that plan, Trump also wanted to send U.S. forces into Mexico, one of America’s biggest trade partners, to hunt down drug cartels, the officials revealed.
It seemed that Trump only hesitated with that idea after aides told him that Mexico could view the raids as an act of war.
The Biden administration has continued to use Title 42 in the midst of the pandemic and migration crisis. Here Haitian migrants wait on Tuesday to board a boat in their long trek to the U.S. southern border from South America
When Esper confronted Miller over the use of troops to secure the border, the administration was already moving forward with a different plan: implementing Title 42 – a rule that is still in place.
So when Esper came to Miller, he didn’t press the issue, said a personal familiar with his thinking.
Title 42 gives authority to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during a health emergency to turn back illegal immigrants who cross into the U.S. without proper documentation to where they migrated from.
The current administration has continued using Title 42 during the pandemic, which progressive Democrats have criticized President Biden for.
Since Biden took office, migrants have been surging to the southern border – viewing his campaign promises on immigration as an open borders policy.