Former President Donald Trump would send an unprecedented number of U.S. military troops to the southern border if elected president again in the 2024 race, tasking them with building migrant prisons and other infrastructure to punish migrants, sources told Rolling Stone Magazine.
At least three sources familiar with the situation confirmed to the publication Trump’s intent to use “hundreds of thousands” of troops to execute the plan, which has been condemned as fascist by human rights advocates.
A new Trump administration would, “on day one,” start building “a new network of immigrant detention camps,” the sources told Rolling Stone.
“I have heard anywhere between 100,000 to 300,000 from President Trump, Stephen Miller, and others,” one of the sources said, adding that Trump and his former adviser have deemed that figure necessary to “get the job done right.”
Presidents from both major political parties have sent troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in the past, but in far fewer numbers than Trump intends to send, with the soldiers deployed typically serving in administrative roles alongside Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. For decades, human rights advocates have condemned such policies, saying that the increasing militarization of the U.S. border critically endangers the lives of migrants and turns local communities into “warzones.”
Indeed, Trump has previously called for treating migrants who cross into the U.S. — including asylum seekers, whose right to cross the border is protected by domestic and international law — as soldiers in a “war” on the U.S.
Trump’s attempt to send a massive influx of U.S. troops to the southern border during his first stint in office was thwarted by his advisers. But his most recent anti-immigrant rhetoric indicates that he’ll likely attempt to send troops again if reelected, and crack down on any government officials who oppose him.
“When I’m re-elected, we will begin, and we have no choice, the largest deportation operation in America,” Trump said at a rally in Reno, Nevada, over the weekend.
Trump also used xenophobic and dehumanizing language when speaking about immigrants at a New Hampshire rally on Saturday.
“They’re poisoning the blood of our country. That’s what they’ve done,” Trump said, claiming, without evidence, that migrants are coming from the “prisons” and “mental institutions” in their countries of origin.
Trump reiterated the claim — which many have noted is rooted in fascist and white nationalist ideology — on his Truth Social website. “[I]llegal immigration is poisoning the blood of our nation,” Trump wrote.
The former president’s statements were widely condemned by observers as normalizing racism.
“Classic Trump: say something crazy outrageous, neo-Nazi-like and it gets headlines, creates outrage,” political analyst Mehdi Hasan observed. “So wait a little. Then say it again, no one notices, no coverage, and it gets normalized and mainstreamed.”
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian and expert on authoritarianism, denounced Trump’s”blood poisoning” comments, noting that such xenophobia is a well-known facet of fascism.
“The Nazis made the fear of ‘blood pollution’ of their master race and their civilization a foundation of their state,” Ben-Ghiat said. “Italian fascists talked about the threat of nonwhite immigrants coming in to ruin white civilization. Trump is referencing and prolonging and echoing fascist rhetoric.”
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