US President Donald Trump has said his administration is planning to “build tent cities” for the thousands of Central American migrants seeking asylum who are heading towards the Southern border.
Trump made the announcement during a Fox News interview on Monday night after the Pentagon announced it was deploying 5,200 active-duty troops to beef up security the country’s border with Mexico.
Trump has ratcheted up anti-migrant rhetoric ahead of crucial midterm congressional elections next week, calling the caravan of Central American migrants an “invasion.”
A new group of migrants has left El Salvador to join other United States-bound caravans of Central Americans mostly fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries.
Democrats and rights activists have said Trump is drawing on xenophobic and racist images in an effort to stoke anti-immigrant concerns among voters ahead of Election Day.
“If they apply for asylum, we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place. We’re going to hold them, we’re going to build tent cities, we’re gonna build tents all over the place,” he said.
“We’re not gonna build structures and spend all of these hundreds of millions of dollars. We’re gonna have tents, they’re gonna be very nice, and they’re going to wait, and if they don’t get asylum they get out.”
The president added that asylum seekers would remain in detention centers while their claims were being processed, adding that this would discourage would-be applicants from entering the US.