Nielsen: We don't have any intention to 'shoot at people' crossing border illegally

Nielsen: We don't have any intention to 'shoot at people' crossing border illegally
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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Senators urge Trump to fill vacancies at DHS Trump taps Chad Wolf as new acting DHS secretary MORE said Thursday that the U.S. Border Patrol has no intention "right now" of shooting at people who may try to forcibly enter the country's southern border. 

"We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people," Nielsen said in an interview with Fox News. "They will be apprehended however."

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Nielsen added that she takes her officers' safety "extraordinarily seriously" and that they "of course" have the ability to defend themselves. 

When asked if that meant that officers would shoot back if they were shot at, Nielsen replied, "no."

"We’d have to work through that. But I want to make clear we will absolutely not tolerate violence against Border Patrol in this situation," she said. "I will not tolerate Mexicans or anybody else acting in a violent way towards our men and women on the border."

Her comments came the same day reports surfaced that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was expected to sign an order sending about 800 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.  

The reports coincided with President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE's statement on Thursday that he was "bringing out the military" to secure the southern border. 

"I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency," Trump tweeted early Thursday morning. "They will be stopped!"

Trump has continued to escalate his rhetoric about immigration as a group of thousands of migrants fleeing violence in Central America advances towards the U.S. 

Trump has said he will cut off or substantially reduce U.S. aid to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras for their failure to stop the band of migrants from heading to the U.S.

A spokesman for the Pentagon said Thursday that the Defense Department expects to receive a request for assistance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).