Donald Trump has said asylum seekers who illegally cross into the US from Mexico will be kept in “very nice” tents in a bid to put others off doing the same.
Railing against a migrant caravan heading for America’s southern border, the US president told Fox News his administration is going to build tent cities in preparation for what he described as an “invasion” of the country.
Those applying to stay in the US will be incarcerated until their asylum application is considered by a court, Mr Trump added – a process that can currently take years.
Mr Trump’s comments on Monday evening came the same day it emerged he is preparing to send more than 5,000 troops to the Mexico border, a move critics say is an attempt to further politicise the issue.
“I’m sending up the military, this is the military, and they’re standing there, and one thing that will happen, when they’re captured, we don’t let them out,” Mr Trump told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
“What has been happening, and we’re not as of pretty recently, we’re not letting them out. What happens is they would catch and release,” he added, in reference to a policy which allows people entering the US illegally to live there ahead of their court date.
“We’re catching, we’re not releasing. So if they wanna come over, but we’re not even doing that. We’re not letting them into this country.”
He continued: “We’re going to build tent cities, we’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures, and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars.
“We’re going to have tents, they’re going to be very nice, and they’re going to wait, and if they don’t get asylum, they get out. And very few people, they don’t actually, if you wanna wait they don’t usually get asylum, you know that.”
The result, Mr Trump added, would be “far fewer people” attempting to cross into the US.
Asked if sending troops to the border was an midterm election strategy to fire up his base, Mr Trump insisted the “thousands” attempting to reach the US was an “invasion of our country”, a phrase he had previously used on Twitter.
Later in the interview, Mr Trump railed against accusations he bears some responsibility for the attempted mail bombing of CNN’s offices and a number of high-profile critics of the president.
Despite his inflammatory rhetoric, including repeatedly branding “fake news” media “the enemy of the people”, Mr Trump insisted responsibility lay only with the “insane” suspect, who is an avowed supporter of the president.
Complaining his name was “in the headline” of one news report about the arrest of the suspect, Cesar Sayoc, Mr Trump compared the coverage to news reports about the shooting of nine African-Americans by a white supremacist in 2015.
“They didn’t do that with President Obama with the church, the horrible situation with the church, they didn’t do that,” he said.
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