During an interview with Good Morning America that aired on Wednesday, White House adviser Ivanka Trump seemed confused about her father’s immigration policy — specifically the authorization he gave troops stationed at the border to use lethal force against migrants and asylum seekers.
Good Morning America’s Deborah Roberts asked Trump if she’s concerned that her father gave troops that authorization, which critics argue isn’t necessary because migrants and asylum seekers don’t present a serious threat. She responded by denying her dad did any such thing.
“I don’t believe that that’s what he said, but his primary role as commander in chief is obviously to protect the nation’s borders — he has to protect our country’s security,” Ivanka Trump said. “But I don’t ... lethal force in this case would — that is not I think something that anyone is talking about.”
But during a question-and-answer session with reporters on Thanksgiving, President Trump unequivocally said he gave approval for troops he deployed to the border the authorization to use deadly force.
“If they have to, they’re gonna use lethal force. I’ve given the okay,” Trump said. “Yeah, if they have to — I hope they don’t have to ... but you’re dealing with rough people.”
Roberts pointed out to Ivanka Trump that her claim is contradicted by comments her father made on camera just days ago. She responded by downplaying it.
“So lethal force under any circumstance would be the last resort, but he is the commander in chief of the armed forces of this country, so he always has to be able to protect the border,” she said. “He is not talking about innocents. He is not talking about innocent asylum seekers.”
GMA: Are you comfortable with your dad giving troops authorization to use lethal force at the border?— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 28, 2018
IVANKA: "I don't believe that's what he said."
GMA: Actually he did. Here's video of it.
IVANKA: "So... he's the commander in chief, so he always has to protect the border." pic.twitter.com/kT0WN1HHWG
Trump’s decision to give troops the authority to use lethal force against a group of migrants and asylum seekers containing many women and children was reportedly more controversial than Ivanka Trump would have you believe.
According to the Daily Beast, Defense Secretary James Mattis objected to the proposal, but the Department of Homeland Security “went above Mattis’ head in order to get Donald Trump’s chief of staff [John Kelly] to secure for them the potentially lethal military force for which immigration hardliners in the administration had clamored.”
While no migrants or asylum seekers have been fired upon by US troops, some women and children were affected by tear gas fired by US Border Patrol agents when a group of people tried to cross the border en masse on Sunday.
“I felt that my face was burning, and my baby fainted. I ran for my life and that of my children,” Cindy Milla, a 23-year-old migrant who traveled from Honduras with her 10-month-old baby and 4-year-old son, told the Wall Street Journal.
As Vox’s Dara Lind detailed, the Trump administration’s policy of making asylum seekers wait for lengthy, indeterminate periods of time in Mexico without any assurance that their claims will even be considered has played a large role in creating crisis conditions at the border.