Trump Says Military Won't Shoot If Migrants Throw Rocks

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said Friday that soldiers sent to fortify the U.S. border with Mexico won’t shoot migrants if they throw rocks at Americans, a reversal from remarks he made a day earlier.

Migrants trying to enter the U.S. will instead be quickly arrested if they’re violent, he said as he departed the White House for a campaign rally in West Virginia.

“No, they won’t have to fire,” he said. “What they did to the Mexican military is a disgrace. They hit them with rocks, some were very seriously injured and they are throwing rocks in their face. They do that with us, they’re going to be arrested, there’s going to be problems.

“I didn’t say shoot. I didn’t say shoot. But they do that with us, they’re going to be arrested for a long time.”

Trump indicated on Thursday that he had authorized the military to shoot migrants who throw rocks at U.S. officials.

“They want to throw rocks are our military? Our military fights back. I told them, ‘consider it a rifle,”’ Trump said after remarks on immigration at the White House.

Retired military leaders criticized the president, saying the directive would amount to an unlawful order and that soldiers shouldn’t obey it.

Trump has ordered thousands of soldiers to the border with Mexico to protect against what he’s called “caravans” of migrants making their way north from Central America.

Read more: Trump’s Troops at Mexico Border Could Cost $10 Million a Day

The president has insisted without evidence that the impoverished families walking toward the U.S. are violent invaders who will endanger Americans’ safety if they’re allowed into the country, remarks that his political opponents say are intended to scare voters ahead of midterm congressional elections on Tuesday.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.