Donald Trump has suggested stone-throwing migrants making it to the US-Mexico border might be shot by the US military, as he unveiled a proposal to limit the right to apply for asylum.
In a speech at the White House filled with several falsehoods, the president said he was seeking to limit asylum claims only to those who applied at legal entry points. He claimed the move was necessary because a series of migrant caravans – still up to a 1,000 miles from the border – was considered by some people to be “an invasion”.
“Asylum is not a programme for those living in poverty. There are billions of people in the world living at the poverty level. The United States cannot possibly absorb them all,” he said.
Mr Trump has ramped up his tough stance on illegal immigration, an issue that appeals to his core supporters, before crucial midterm elections on Tuesday that will decide if his Republican Party keep control of Congress.
“Asylum is a very specific protection based on those fleeing persecution.”
The migrants making their way northwards have come largely from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, all of which suffer from poverty and high levels of violence.
He said some had thrown stones at, and attacked Mexican police and troops – a reference to clashes between Mexican security forces and up to 1,500 migrants at the Guatemala-Mexico border, that left one migrant dead. Meanwhile, even as the number of migrants attached to the original caravan continues to dwindle, a third group of around 500 migrants from El Salvador entered Guatemala last weekend.
“I hope there won’t be that. But I will tell you this, anybody throwing stones, rocks like they did to Mexico … Where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico – we will consider that a firearm,” the president said.
“Because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock.”
If you want to see how the press conference unfolded please see our live coverage below
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Hello and welcome to our coverage of President Donald Trump's remarks on immigration policy, which he he made the central issue to next week's midterms.
In the last two days he has vowed to end birthright citizenship, and backed that vow at a rally in Florida last night.
The catalyst for all this has been the movement of a caravan of refugees and migrants moving from Central America and to the US border.
Mr Trump has used it as a peg to hang his hardline immigration rhetoric - looking to galvanise his supporter base.
The latest on that caravan is here:
Mr Trump's remarks are set for 4.15pm (8.15pm GMT) from the White House, before he heads to another rally in Missouri later this evening.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, a Trump ally and head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, has echoed some of the Republican president's strong rhetoric about the caravan in a letter to the secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.
Mr Grassley said his office had received information that several members of the caravan had "significant criminal histories" and was seeking information about "potential national security threats that reportedly exist among the members."
A reminder that Mr Trump has repeatedly said that the caravan, involving many families fleeing violence in their home countries, is full of criminals and "tough fighters". He has not offered any evidence for his claims.
According to the Associated Press, Mr Trump is expected to announce plans to automatically deny asylum to refugees and migrants who try to enter the US illegally between ports of entry.
It was unclear whether the restrictions Mr Trump is seeking would apply only to those traveling in the caravans or extend to all people trying to enter the country. And it also was unclear whether the president has the legal authority to change the rules.
President Trump has already caused consternation today with his tweeting of a video aimed at hitting Democrats on their immigration policies. The advert has been labelled one of the most racist in recent memory.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called the new immigration advert an example of Mr Trump “at his worst.”
Speaking to CNN, Mr Perez called the ad an example of the president's “fear mongering.”
“This is distracting, divisive Donald at his worst,” Mr Perez said
Here is some video of children in the caravan during a stop in the town of Juchitan last night.
↵Here is the Independent's editorial Mr Trump's targeting of the migrant caravan:
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