Watch CBSN Live

Trump says he wants to send more military to the border during Texas visit

Trump looks to toughen immigration policy
Trump looks to toughen immigration policy 06:28

President Trump is in Texas Wednesday afternoon to rally supporters, as he continues his push for a tougher immigration system and threatens to close the border if Mexico or Congress doesn't stop the flow of immigrants coming into the U.S. Mr. Trump said the situation is so dire he will have to send more troops to the border.

Even as the president focused on border security, the hollowing out of his immigration personnel structure continued Wednesday with the announced departure of acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Ron Vitiello, announced by also outgoing Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. The president had previously announced Vitiello would run Customs and Border Protection, but later said he wanted to go in a "tougher" direction.

The president began his day-long trip in San Antonio, where reporters were, without warning, ushered into what was supposed to be an event closed to the press at a private country club. There, the president declared that many immigrants are dying as they cross the border, abandoned by coyote smugglers. His graphic descriptions were echoed by a supporter seated next to him.

"We find dead people from Guatemala Honduras from El Salvador, from Mexico, all over," said the president seated at a table, as unnamed supporters stood behind him.

"Many many dead people, many," he added. "... Nobody has any idea how bad this is."

The president said that "dangerous people are coming here and the good people are dying." The president went on to describe stories he says he's heard of immigrants found dead all along the southern border, and referenced the infamous speech he made at the beginning of his campaign when he claimed some immigrants are being sexually assaulted as they cross the border. 

"From the time I made my first speech at Trump Tower, when I mentioned the word 'rape' and everybody went crazy, that turned out to be nothing compared to what happens on those journeys up, nothing. My speech was so tame, as it turned out," Mr. Trump said. 

After listening to stories of participants in the roundtable, the president said he will have to "call up more military," although they can't "act like a military" because if they "got a little rough, everybody would go crazy."

Mr. Trump took questions only briefly, but claimed he hasn't thought about immigration hardliner Kris Kobach to take over for Nielsen. Kevin McAleenan is taking her place for now as acting DHS secretary.

"I have respect for him, but I haven't really thought about that. I'm very happy right now with Kevin," Mr. Trump said.

The president then spoke to the International Union of Operating Engineers and International Training Education Center to sign two executive orders on energy infrastructure.

According to a senior administration official, the first executive order "relates to energy infrastructure, generally, and the second relates to cross-border infrastructure." The two are meant to make it easier for the oil and gas industry to obtain permits for pipeline construction, as well as other infrastructure needs. The president claimed liberal states, like New York, are "obstructing" infrastructure projects.

The president welcomed Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the son of two former presidents, on stage. Mr. Trump and the Bushes haven't seen eye to eye.

"This is the only Bush that likes me," the president said as he welcomed the Bush son on stage, adding, "Truly this is the Bush that got it right."

His final stop will be in Texas for another roundtable with supporters and more remarks at a joint fundraising committee dinner.

The president's comments Wednesday connecting crime and immigration come as the White House is aiming to enforce stricter immigration policies by cracking down on asylum grants and other means. Those intentions for stricter policies are accompanied by the departures of top Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, the most prominent one being Nielsen. Wednesday marks her last day on the job. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.