President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77 Biden, Democrats losing ground with independent and suburban voters: poll Bipartisan Senate group discusses changes to election law MORE on Wednesday said he might deploy up to 15,000 service members to the U.S. southern border to stop a "caravan" of migrants from entering the country.
"As far as the caravan is concerned, our military is out. We have about 5,000. We'll go up to anywhere between 10 and 15,000 military personnel on top of Border Patrol, [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and everybody else at the border," the president told reporters on the South Lawn.
Trump vowed the U.S. would not allow people from the "very dangerous" caravan to cross the border, even though many say they plan to seek asylum at legal ports of entry, which is permitted under the law.
"Nobody is coming in. We're not allowing people to come in," he said.
Trump's latest comments come just two days after he sent 5,200 active-duty personnel to the border to assist Border Patrol in responding to the shrinking caravan, which is still hundreds of miles away from the U.S.
Such a deployment could outstrip the number of U.S. service members in Afghanistan, who number 14,000.
Trump has made a dizzying array of immigration proposals in the days leading up to the midterm elections, when control of the House and the Senate are up for grabs.
The president has sought to make the issue the centerpiece of his closing message for GOP candidates, focusing on the caravan and suggesting he might act on his own to end the constitutional right to birthright citizenship.
A number of Republicans have pushed back at Trump's suggestion on Tuesday that he could end birthright citizenship with an executive order, but the president doubled down on Wednesday and used the curious example of former President Obama's own executive actions on immigration to make his argument.
Trump and Republicans have been highly critical of Obama's use of executive action to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows certain young people who came to the United States illegally to work and go to school here.
"If President Obama can get DACA approved — if you look at DACA — where he actually said, 'Well, this isn't legal or this I can't do but I'll do it anyway,' and then he gets a judge to approve it, and it'll ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, I hope quickly. But certainly if he can do DACA, we can do this by executive order," Trump said.
Trump said he is "not fear-mongering at all" on the issue of immigration, even as he accused Democrats of allowing 25 to 30 million undocumented immigrants into the country.
That is more than double the number of undocumented immigrants the U.S. government estimates are living in the U.S. In 2014, the Department of Homeland Security said there are 12.1 million currently in the country.
"Immigration is a very, very big and very dangerous, a really dangerous topic," Trump said. "Democrats have let immigration in our country get out of control."
Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump's 'Enemies List' — end of year edition The US can't go back to business as usual with Pakistan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE, asked earlier if the movement of troops to the border was a political diversion for the midterms, said the Pentagon does not do "stunts."