The U.S. military, which is poised to send additional troops to the Southern border, is not planning to shoot at migrants caravaning from Central America if they enter the U.S., Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in an interview that aired Thursday.
“We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people, but they will be apprehended, however,” Nielsen said during an interview with Fox News’ Martha MacCallum. “But I also take my officer and agent, their own person safety, extraordinarily seriously. They do have the ability of force to defend themselves.”
The government will “have to work through” whether troops will be allowed to shoot back if migrants open fire first.
The comments from Nielsen come after reports the Pentagon is sending 800 troops, who are not legally allowed to use lethal force in law enforcement operations, to the U.S.-Mexican border to assist border agents.
It’s uncertain which troops will be sent to the border, but it’s expected that the troops will primarily consist of engineers and doctors who can supply equipment and help in labor projects. However, the troops are projected to arrive next week to prepare for thousands of migrants who are headed for the Southern border.
The U.S.' and Mexico’s original plan for dealing with the migrants fell through after the group destroyed border fences separating Guatemala and Mexico.
The White House is now considering an executive action, coupled with a regulation modification, that would prevent the caravan from entering the U.S. by barring some migrants from seeking asylum, three people familiar with the issue told Politico.
“The administration is considering a wide range of administrative, legal and legislative options to address the Democrat-created crisis of mass illegal immigration,” a White House official said, according to Politico. “No decisions have been made at this time. Nor will we forecast to smugglers or caravans what precise strategies will or will not be deployed.”
[More: DHS 'can confirm': Gang members, criminals are in the caravan]
The Department of Homeland Security declined to comment to the Washington Examiner. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.
President Trump urged the migrants to “turnaround” because they would not be admitted into the U.S. unless they apply for citizenship from their home countries.
"To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally. Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!" Trump tweeted Thursday.