- President Donald Trump smiled and joked after a supporter at a rally in Florida yelled that migrants crossing the US-Mexico border should be shot.
- Trump had mentioned how Border Patrol agents could not use violence to prevent migrants from entering the country and asked how to “stop these people.”
- “Shoot them!” the supporter yelled, as Trump smiled and joked that “only in the Panhandle you can get away with this stuff.”
- Critics have seized on Trump’s failure to explicitly condemn the remark, noting that just last month a vigilante militia group detained hundreds of migrants at gunpoint.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump smiled and joked on Wednesday night after a supporter at his rally in Florida yelled “shoot them” when Trump asked how migrants should be stopped from crossing the border.
In his remarks in Panama City Beach, Florida, Trump addressed the surge of migrants seeking asylum in the US in recent months. The rising numbers have long enraged Trump and fuelled his cries of a “crisis” at the border.
At one point in his speech, Trump noted that US Border Patrol agents couldn’t use violence to prevent migrants from illegally entering the country.
“Don’t forget: We don’t let them, and we can’t let them, use weapons. We can’t,” Trump told the crowd. “Other countries do. We can’t. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people? You can’t.”
“Shoot them!” one person in the audience shouted. Some in the crowd clapped and cheered, while others grimaced.
- embed type
In response, Trump paused before smiling and shaking his head.
“That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with this stuff,” Trump said. “Only in the Panhandle!”
Though Trump did not explicitly support the idea of using violence against migrants at the border, his failure to condemn the supporter’s remark sparked concern from critics of Trump’s immigration policies.
Some noted that violence against migrants at the border was already a reality – in April, a vigilante militia group filmed themselves detaining hundreds of migrants at gunpoint while they waited for Border Patrol agents to arrive.
The group’s leader was arrested soon after the incident, and the Customs and Border Protection agency warned against private groups taking “matters into their own hands.”
- Read more:
- A 16-year-old migrant boy has died in US custody
- Border Patrol found a crying 3-year-old alone in a cornfield with a phone number written on his shoes
- An immigrant worker at a Trump golf club who reportedly mastered the president’s elaborate method for pouring Diet Coke says he was forced to work overtime without pay
- Trump reportedly told his border chief to close the border and block migrants from entering the US – and that if he went to jail, he’d pardon him
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.