President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he will have to direct more American troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, after his supporters shared graphic stories about illegal immigration during a meeting in San Antonio.
“I’m going to have to call up more military,” said Trump, who was flanked at the roundtable event by a small group of local officials and ranchers.
Trump has sent thousands of troops to the border before. In early February, the Pentagon announced a deployment of about 3,750 active-duty troops less than two weeks before the president declared that the situation at the southern border constituted a national emergency.
Trump also lashed out at media outlets who have refused to count the construction of replacement barrier along the border as “new” sections of his long-promised wall.
“I ripped down a wall” that was “useless, and we built a new one,” Trump said. “Some of them said we didn’t build a wall … what they don’t say is that we ripped it down” because “it was garbage.”
Trump told the reporters, “You’re dishonest people, many of you.”
The roundtable was part of two scheduled fundraising events in Texas — one in San Antonio and the other in Houston. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told reporters earlier Wednesday that she expected Trump’s reelection campaign would raise at least $6 million from the two events alone.
Trump did not elaborate on when he would send more military personnel to the border, or how many he planned to deploy. The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s questions about the president’s remarks. The Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Trump relayed to the media some of the anecdotes he had been told about the danger on the border.
“We start talking and the first person gets up and says, ‘Sir, we have many people dying. Coming across the border,'” Trump said. “‘They’ll be dropped off and they start walking and they’ll say Houston’s right down the road. But it’s actually 300 miles away. And we find dead people from Guatemala, from Honduras, from El Salvador, From Mexico. All over.'”
The president also said that the troops sent to the border have to use more restraint than they otherwise would.
“Our military, don’t forget, can’t act like a military would act. Because if they got a little rough, everybody would go crazy,” Trump said.
“They have all these horrible laws that the Democrats won’t change, they will not change them. And I think they will pay a very big price in 2020 for all of the things, whether it is the fake witch hunt they start out, or whether it is a situation like this. I think the border is going to be an incredible issue,” Trump said.