Spicer: Trump didn’t mean ‘military operation’ literally

President Trump wasn’t speaking literally when he described his deportation push as a “military operation,” according to his top spokesman. 

“The president was using that as an adjective. It is happening with precision,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday.

Spicer added that “the president was clearly describing the manner in which this is being done.” 

Trump sowed confusion over the military’s role in immigration enforcement with his remarks earlier Thursday at the White House. 

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“We’re getting really bad dudes out of this country,” he said at a meeting with manufacturing CEOs. “And at a rate nobody has ever seen before. And they’re the bad ones. And it’s a military operation.”

Using the military to apprehend people living illegally in the interior of the country would be highly unusual — and possibly a violation of U.S. law. 

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly later clarified that military troops would not be used to enforce immigration laws after meeting with Mexican officials. 

"There will be no, no use of military force in immigration,” Kelly said in Mexico City.