The Trump administration discussed sending more than half of active Army troops to the Mexican border last year before Defense Secretary Mark Esper shut down the idea, according to The New York Times.
Trump adviser Stephen Miller urged the Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan to seal off the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico last spring.
Esper was “alarmed to learn” that the Department of Homeland Security was discussing an idea to deploy as many as 250,000 troops, a sixth of all American forces, to the border.
The idea was relayed to officials at the Pentagon’s Northern Command, which oversees all military operations inside the country.
Officials say the idea was never formally presented to Trump for approval but was discussed in White House meetings.
Esper was “enraged” by the plan and the fact that DHS bypassed his office. Esper believed such a move would also undermine US military readiness.
Esper shut down the idea after a “brief but contentious confrontation” with Miller in the Oval Office.
Trump wanted to send military into Mexico:
Around the same time, Trump pressed his top aides to send military forces into Mexico to kill drug cartels.
Trump “hesitated” on the idea after his aides explained that such a mission would appear to be an act of war against the country’s biggest trading partner.
Trump ultimately relented and instead used a public health rule that is still in effect to effectively bar all asylum claims.
“With economies and health care systems faltering across the planet, our southwest border would have become the epicenter of illicit Covid fueled migration — one giant, never-ending superspreader event,” Miller told the Times. “Instead, the border was successfully sealed and the would-be violators and spreaders got the message and stayed home.”
Trump took message to Twitter:
Trump signaled his intent on Twitter last spring, writing that, “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the Earth. We merely await a call from your great new president!”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador turned down the offer.
“We appreciate and thank very much President Trump and any foreign government that wants to help, but in these cases we have to act with independence,” he said.