Trump vows to send 15,000 troops to border to face migrants

US president ramps up immigration rhetoric amid spat with Paul Ryan ahead of midterms

US president Donald Trump has pledged to send up to 15,000 troops to the US border as he ramped up his anti-immigration rhetoric ahead of next week's midterm elections.

The figure of 15,000 – more than the total number of US military personnel currently deployed in Afghanistan – is a dramatic increase on the figure of 5,200 he mentioned earlier this week.

Mr Trump made the comments as he left for Florida, where he was due to hold a rally on Wednesday night.

Referring to the migrant caravan making its way through central America towards the US border, Mr Trump said “we’re going to be prepared – they’re not coming into our country”. He also said he was not concerned by the women’s vote in the midterm elections as he said women voters “don’t want people pouring into this country”.


Earlier the president hit out at outgoing House speaker Paul Ryan over his comments about birthright citizenship.

In a tweet, Mr Trump said that Mr Ryan should be focusing on holding the Republican majority in the House of Representatives rather than giving his opinions on birthright citizenship, “something he knows nothing about”.

“Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!” he tweeted, in an unusual public display of party antagonism days before the midterm elections.

His comments were a jibe at Mr Ryan's rejection the previous day of Mr Trump's proposal to change the current system whereby all people born in the United States are automatically given citizenship.

Mr Trump has suggested changing the law, which is inscribed in the 14th amendment to the constitution, by executive order, though he said on Wednesday that he would prefer if Congress changed it. Any move to amend the constitution would need a two-thirds majority in Congress and would have to be endorsed by three-quarters of states.

In a separate tweet the president doubled down on his proposal, stating that the policy “will be ended one way or the other”.

Campaign trail

Mr Trump plans to visit eight states before next Tuesday’s elections, the most closely watched midterm elections in recent years.

In a boost for Democrats, a University of Texas poll showed that incumbent senator Ted Cruz’s lead over Beto O’Rourke is tightening.

The poll showed that Mr Cruz is now ahead by 3.6 percentage points, a lower margin than previously estimated. It also revealed that 5.7 per cent of Texans are undecided.

However, Republicans took hope from a new CNN poll which found that their candidate in the tightly-contested Arizona Senate race is gaining ground. While the Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema still leads Martha McSally, that margin is tightening – she now leads 51 per cent to 47 per cent, down from a seven-point lead.

Democrats are hoping to pick up a coveted Senate seat in Arizona, where outgoing Republican senator Jeff Flake is not contesting the election.

While Mr Trump is hitting the campaign trail, former president Barack Obama and former vice-president Joe Biden are also campaigning. Mr Obama is due to hold events in Indiana and Florida in the coming days, while Mr Biden has been campaigning for Democratic candidates in Missouri and Illinois.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent