In a truly shocking and unprecedented turn of events, the White House authorized the use of “lethal force” at the Mexican border, per a cabinet order signed on Wednesday by Chief of Staff John Kelly, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
This is terrifying news for those who imagine hundreds of immigrants, including women and children, being gunned down by American troops. However, that’s not going to happen — despite the authorization from the White House.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis stated that the military police at the border don’t even have weapons. They will not be armed, and they will not have the power to carry out arrests.
“There is no armed element going on,” Mattis told reporters on Wednesday, according to the BBC.
Around 3,000 immigrants, mainly from Honduras and Guatemala, are in Tijuana right now. Tijuana is a border city just outside the state of California.
The immigrants are part of a caravan that set out for the U.S. weeks ago, walking for hundreds of miles to flee gangs, drug activity, poverty, and violence in their home countries.
Donald Trump has stated that they are an invasion. Meanwhile, he has deployed around 8,000 active military and National Guard troops at the border, which has been fortified with barbed wire.
Mattis told reporters that the Department of Homeland Security did not ask for lethal force to be authorized. “Relax, don’t worry about it,” he said Wednesday.
Troops will be armed only with batons and shields. They will not have the authority to arrest immigrants, though they will be able to temporarily detain them for “minutes, not even hours.”
“If someone’s beating on a border patrolman, and if we were in a position to have to do something about it, we could stop them from beating on them and take them over and deliver them to a border patrolman who would then arrest them,” he said.
This is a far more humane solution than the White House plan to employ lethal force in order to protect border patrol agents, which was the official reasoning behind the Wednesday order signed by Kelly.
Immigrants have told reporters that they are fleeing Central America because they fear for their lives; some have been threatened by the gang members who run illegal businesses in the area. The caravan is made up of many families that have children with them.
Traffickers and gang members frequently abduct people attempting to immigrate from Central America into Mexico and the US caravans form because there is safety in numbers. A large group like this one is much harder for gangs to attack.
They are searching for jobs and for safety. The White House has deployed the military to greet them instead.
“We don’t have guns in their hands right now,” Mattis said of the thousands of troops at the border, according to Army Times.
And for many, that comes as a big relief.