Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, referring to US troops who are expected to be deployed to the southern border to deter an incoming migrant caravan, said Thursday that "we do not have any intention right now to shoot at people."
"We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people, but they will be apprehended, however," Nielsen said in an interview with Fox News. "But I also take my officers and agents, their own personal safety, extraordinarily seriously. They do have the ability, of course, to defend themselves."
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Defense Secretary James Mattis is expected to sign deployment orders that could send 800 or more troops to the border with Mexico to help border patrol authorities stop the caravan, according to three administration officials.
Nielsen said the Department of Homeland Security has asked for the Department of Defense to help "bolster our capabilities" on the border in an effort to avoid a chaotic incident like when migrants were met at the Guatemalan-Mexican border by Mexican police in riot gear.
"We will absolutely not tolerate violence against border patrol in this situation," Nielsen said. "These are dedicated men and women risking their lives every day. I will not tolerate Mexicans or anybody else acting in a violent way towards our men and women on the border."
Nielsen has faced criticism over the US' controversial "zero-tolerance" policy which has led to the separations of families, and was the subject of a recent argument between White House chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton. Nielsen said she was assured the argument did not occur.
"Not only do I have no reason to believe that story, but everyone that I've asked including all involved assure me that did not occur," Nielsen said.
When asked about her discussions about her performance and border security with the President, Nielsen said she talks with him often and "everything is on the table" to address immigration issues.
"We are talking about every possible way that we can adjust the flows," she said.