President Trump's current harder-line immigration polices, and the precursory purge at the Homeland Security Department, began with a two-hour meeting in March during which Trump ordered top officials to close down the entire U.S-Mexico border by noon the next day, The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing more than a dozen Trump administration officials directly involved in that week's events. Trump's staff eventually talked him down, "but the people who tried to restrain him have largely been replaced," and "his threat to seal off the country from a flood of immigrants remains active," the Times reports.
But Trump's other ideas for sealing off the border were equally or more extreme, and some of them got surprisingly far, the Times reports:
Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That's not allowed either, they told him. [The New York Times]
"There is nothing funny about" threatening to shoot or maim migrants, Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan tweeted. The alligator-filled border moat has been used to mock immigration hard-liners, however.
"They're going to say we need to quadruple the border patrol, or they'll want a higher fence," President Barack Obama said in a speech in El Paso in 2011. "Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they'll want alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied. I understand. That's politics."
Rick Perry, Trump's energy secretary, also joked about putting alligators at the border wall to Fox News host Sean Hannity in 2011. Some fellow Republicans are bragging they're "gonna build a double fence, we're going to put alligators between it, and we're going to put lava in there, as well," Perry said, railing against a wall.
As far as we know, Trump hasn't yet suggested lava.