Former US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that if re-elected, he would transfer resources from federal agencies and send thousands of troops stationed abroad to the country’s border with Mexico.
Speaking to supporters in Iowa, where the first Republican nominating contest for the November 2024 election will take place in January, Trump also promised to reinstate the ban on entry into the United States from several countries with predominantly Muslim populations that was in place during his presidency.
After calling illegal border crossings between the United States and Mexico an “invasion” during President Joe Biden’s administration, Trump sought to blame the current administration for the problem. Biden, a Democrat, is running for re-election and could have a rematch against Republican front-runner Trump.
“When I take office, I will immediately end any open border policies of the Biden administration,” Trump said at a rally in Dubuque. “I will make clear that we must use all necessary resources to stop the invasion, including relocating thousands of troops currently deployed abroad.”
Trump offered few details, including exactly how he planned to expand bans against Muslim-majority countries. It was unclear whether Trump would face legal obstacles to implementing such measures.
The Biden administration defended its border policy, saying it is using available tools while calling on Congress to pass legislation to fix a broken system. Most people who want to cross the southern border of the United States come from Central American countries.
Trump’s rivals have stepped up their rhetoric on immigration in recent weeks, promising tough measures at border crossings between the United States and Mexico, a sign of how important the issue is to Republican voters.
About one in six Republicans view immigration as the country’s most pressing issue, making it the third most important issue to them after the economy and crime, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released this month showed.
Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in an interview with CBS that if elected president he would send the army to the border and authorize the use of lethal force against members of drug cartels.
DeSantis is Trump’s main rival, but trails him by about 40 percentage points in opinion polls.
The rally in Dubuque was one of Trump’s two stops in Iowa on Wednesday afternoon. His campaign is planning a series of visits to the state in the coming weeks as it looks to deal with pressure from his primary rivals, some of whom spent much more time in Iowa.
Trump was the only major candidate to miss the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual banquet in Des Moines over the weekend, missing a chance to connect with evangelicals, a key voting bloc for the state.