NY Times: Donald Trump Revived Idea of Alligator-Filled Moat at the Border

Picture of a prototype of US President Donald Trump's US-Mexico border wall being built near San Diego, in the US, as seen from across the border from Tijuana, Mexico, on October 5, 2017. Following up on President Donald Trump's campaign promise to build a wall along the entire 3,200 kilometre …

President Donald Trump angrily revived the fanciful proposal to build a border moat filled with alligators, amid congressional opposition to his border wall and his legal reforms, according to the New York Times.

In March 2019, “the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next,” the New York Times reported October 1:

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.

Democrats are spotlighting the president’s angry suggestion  — even though Democrats helped create the meme of an alligator-filled moat as they try to portray the idea of a secure border as primitive and mean. For example, in a 2011 speech in El Paso, President Barack Obama mocked the demand  by voters and the GOP for more border defenses, saying:

You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics.

But Trump’s mention of the unworkable idea relfected his anger at Washington’s determination to block his campaign promise, said one of his supporters:

“The president was frustrated and I think he took that moment to hit the reset button,” said Thomas D. Homan, who had served as Mr. Trump’s acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recalling that week in March. “The president wanted it to be fixed quickly.”

The newspaper shows how Trump repeatedly and relentlessly fought his own cautious or oppositional appointees to deliver on his promise to block illegal immigration:

In the Oval Office that March [2019] afternoon, a 30-minute meeting extended to more than two hours as Mr. Trump’s team tried desperately to placate him.

“You are making me look like an idiot!” Mr. Trump shouted, adding in a profanity, as multiple officials in the room described it. “I ran on this. It’s my issue.”

The president’s advisers left the meeting in a near panic.

In the following months, Trump revamped his staff, fired top aides, fended off appeals from business lobbies and then achieved a huge strategic success by threatening to impose tariffs on Mexico:

In late May, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico, despite much opposition in Washington.

His threat prompted a massive policy shift by the Mexican government and a shift in public attitudes among Mexican voters.

Since then, the cross-border flow from Mexico has crashed from 133,000 in May down to 51,000 in September, according to federal data. Other actions — although fought by California judges — are expected to reduce the cross-border flow further.


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