Trump says he may 'call up more military' to border

President TrumpDonald John TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll MORE said Wednesday he may send more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to deal with the spike in migrant families entering the country.

“I’m going to have to call up more military,” Trump said during an impromptu appearance at a Texas political fundraiser with people who said they have dealt firsthand with the surge in migration.

A further increase in U.S. troops at the border is the latest in a string of controversial proposals the Trump administration has floated to address what it calls a crisis the southern border.

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Roughly 2,350 active-duty troops were at the border as of January, when acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanOvernight Defense: Pompeo rejects North Korean call for him to leave negotiations | Trump talk with rebel Libyan general raises eyebrows | New setback to Taliban talks The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? US intel suggests North Korea didn't conduct successful weapon test: report MORE announced plans to send back thousands more and extend their deployment through September. Trump first deployed troops to the border last fall to assist Border Patrol in addressing a migrant caravan traveling from Central America.

Trump lamented that troops are limited to support roles and are barred by law from apprehending migrants, saying, “Our military, don’t forget, can’t act like a military would act because if they got a little rough, everybody would go crazy.”

Even though the president said his focus on immigration has “has nothing to do with politics,” he bashed Democrats for refusing to pass stricter laws and predicted the issue would be a major factor in his reelection race.

“I think they will pay a very big price in 2020 for all of the things, whether it is the fake witch hunt they start out or whether it is a situation like this,” he said, referring to the Russia investigation. “I think the border is going to be an incredible issue.”

The president answered reporters’ questions after listening to stories from fundraiser attendees who said they have had run-ins with human traffickers or have had migrants found dead on their ranches.

Trump drew intense criticism when he announced his 2016 presidential bid for saying Mexico was sending rapists and criminals to the U.S., but he said Wednesday the ranchers’ stories were far worse.

“That turned out to be nothing compared to what happens on those journeys up. Nothing. My speech was so tame, as it turned out,” the president said.

Trump rattled many fellow Republicans by pushing out Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenOvernight Energy: Mueller report reveals Russian efforts to sow division over coal jobs | NYC passes sweeping climate bill likened to 'Green New Deal' | EPA official says agency may ban asbestos | Energy Dept. denies Perry planning exit The Hill's 12:30 Report: Inside the Mueller report Energy Dept denies report that Rick Perry is planning to leave Trump admin MORE over his frustration with the situation at the border, part of a broad effort to overhaul the department’s leadership.

White House immigration adviser Stephen Miller, who is seen as being behind the purge, is also pushing a raft of hard-line proposals intended to stem the flow of Central American migrants, including making it harder to seek asylum and making it possible to detain children for longer periods of time.

Trump earlier this year declared a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build a wall along the southern border and threatened to close down the border entirely to prevent illegal entry. Privately, he reportedly pushed officials to resume family separations, but on Tuesday he denied doing so.