US President Donald Trump has ramped up his rhetoric about a wall along the US southern border with Mexico, saying his administration would build a “human wall” along the US-Mexico border if it cannot construct a physical barrier.
Trump warned in a tweet on Tuesday that he would use the military and thousands more soldiers to form “a human wall” on the southwest border if Democrats rejected his demands for border security funding.
“Tremendous numbers of people are coming up through Mexico in the hopes of flooding our Southern Border,” Trump tweeted. “We have sent additional military. We will build a Human Wall if necessary. If we had a real Wall, this would be a non-event!”
Trump’s tweet came days after the Pentagon announced the deployment of approximately 3,750 more active-duty troops at the US border with Mexico, bringing the total number to about 4,350. The troops will remain for at least 90 days while they assist Customs and Border Protection, conduct surveillance and install barbed wire fences.
Members of Congress have questioned whether the border mission is distracting troops from their work of fighting extremists abroad and training for combat. The first active-duty troops were sent to the border on about Oct. 30 for a mission that was to end Dec. 15. It has since been extended twice.
“What impact does it have to readiness to send several thousand troops down to the Southern border? It interrupts their training. It interrupts their dwell time,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a hearing last Tuesday.
The president’s demand for $5.7 billion in border wall funding was at the center of the recent 35-day partial government shutdown. Trump agreed to reopen the government for three weeks without border money, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers is working to find a compromise to avoid another shutdown on Feb. 15.