Former President Trump said Thursday that if elected again as commander in chief, he will deploy U.S. special forces and other military assets to ‘inflict maximum damage’ on cartels crossing the southern border.
Trump, who announced his 2024 presidential campaign late last year, said drug cartels are ‘waging war on America’ and it is ‘now time for America to wage war on cartels.’
‘Joe Biden has sided against the United States and with the cartels,’ Trump said in a video Thursday. ‘Biden’s open border policies are a deadly betrayal of our nation.’
‘When I am president, it will be the policy of the United States to take down the cartels, just as we took down ISIS and the ISIS caliphate – and just as, unlike the situation we are in today, we had a very, very strong border,’ Trump continued. He said his administration oversaw the ‘strongest border… in the history of our country.’
Trump said that if elected, he will ‘order the Department of Defense to make appropriate use of special forces, cyber warfare, and other overt and covert actions to inflict maximum damage on cartel leadership, infrastructure and operations.’
Trump also said he would designate major cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, which would sever their access to global financial systems, and ask Congress to pass legislation that would ensure drug smugglers and human traffickers receive the death penalty.
‘The drug cartels and their allies in the Biden administration have the blood of countless millions on their hands – millions and millions of families and people are being destroyed,’ Trump said.
‘When I am back in the White House, the drug kingpins and vicious traffickers will never sleep soundly again,’ he said. ‘We did it once, and we did it better than anybody else.’
Trump touted border security under his leadership, calling it ‘strong’ and ‘powerful’ and ‘respected all over the world.’
‘And now we’re laughed at all over the world, and we’re not going to let that happen much longer,’ Trump said.
‘We have to take over, we have to be tough, we have to be smart, we have to be fair. But if we don’t do something immediately, our country is gone,’ he added.
Trump’s remarks came just as President Biden announced expanded border measures ahead of his first ever visit to the southern border next week as his administration struggles to deal with a historic surge in migrants.
Biden announced the expansion of a humanitarian parole program for Venezuelan nationals to include Haitians, Cubans and Nicaraguans. That program will allow 30,000 people each month from all four counties to be paroled into the U.S. for a two-year period as long as they have a financial sponsor and pass other conditions. Those who attempt to enter illegally are made ineligible for the program.
That expanded program will be combined with an expansion of Title 42 expulsions to include those nationalities, allowing up to 30,000 of those who enter the U.S. illegally each month to be quickly returned to Mexico. Additionally, Biden announced an increased use of an alternative removal authority – expedited removal – to remove those who do not claim asylum and who cannot be expelled under Title 42.
The administration will also triple refugee resettlement from Latin American and Caribbean countries, setting a goal of up to 20,000 refugees for FY 2023 and FY 2024.
The Biden administration has touted what it says are the successes of the initial Venezuelan parole program, pointing to stats that show it led to fewer encounters of Venezuelan nationals. However, that program has sparked criticism from Republicans and immigration hawks, who have said it is an abuse of humanitarian parole, which is limited by statute to a ‘case-by-case’ basis for urgent humanitarian purposes or significant public benefit. The Biden administration has used the authority broadly, including to allow Afghans and Ukrainians into the U.S.
Biden on Thursday urged migrants not to make the journey to the land border.
‘Do not just show up at the border, stay where you are and apply legally from there,’ he said, promising that people who attempt to cross the border illegally ‘will not be allowed to enter.’
In another move that is likely to spark pushback from immigration activists, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new rule Thursday that would make illegal immigrants ineligible for asylum if they ‘circumvent available, established pathways to lawful migration’ and do not claim asylum in a country through which they traveled to get to the U.S.
The Biden administration has taken heavy fire over the handling of the crisis and Biden is due to visit El Paso, Texas, on Sunday – one of the areas most overwhelmed by migrants. He is expected to assess border enforcement operations and meet with local officials.
There were more than 2.3 million migrant encounters in FY 2022 alone, topping the then-historic 1.7 million encountered in FY 2021. So far in FY 2023, which began in October, the first two months have outpaced the same period last year – with 233,740 encounters in November, compared to 174,845 that same month in 2021 and 73,994 in 2020.