President Trump on Wednesday said that the United States will become “overrun” if he and his administration are weak when it comes to immigration.
The president was discussing his plan to take action to avoid the migrant family separations at the border which have caused national outrage.
In a televised roundtable between Trump and lawmakers at the White House, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Trump that he’s in a “real bind” under the current law.
He said if families are released into the United States together after they apply for asylum, they often fail to show up to their court dates. On the other hand, if authorities detain the family under the Flores agreement, the children must be separated.
Currently, the Flores Agreement states that minors can only be detained for up to 20 days. Graham said illegal immigration has become a “big, massive mess” which previous presidents and Congress have not solved.
Trump agreed with Graham’s characterization of the choice facing his administration as it tries to enforce a zero-tolerance policy on prosecutions for those who enter illegally.
“If you’re weak — which some people would like you to be — if you’re really, really pathetically weak, the country’s going to be overrun with millions of people,” the president said.
Trump went on to say that “if you’re strong, [then] you don’t have any heart,” alluding to the criticism he’s received about the child separations.
.@POTUS: "If you're weak, which some people would like you to be – if you're really, really pathetically weak, the country's going to be over-run with millions of people. And if you're strong, then you don't have any heart. That's a tough dilemma. Perhaps I'd rather be strong." pic.twitter.com/At7kHS4dGm
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 20, 2018
He added that the situation he’s in is a “tough dilemma.”
“Perhaps I’d rather be strong,” he concluded.
Trump is planning to sign an executive order to allow children to stay with parents caught crossing the border illegally — a step that could avoid the family separations, Fox News’ John Roberts reported.