Gators, bayonets, and a moat: 11 of the wildest requests Trump has made to secure the US-Mexico border

donald trump
donald trump

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  • From bayonets to black paint, President Donald Trump has floated a number of bizarre suggestions to secure the US-Mexico border.

  • Trump even wanted to shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down, according to reports from The New York Times and the Washington Post.

  • Many of Trump's wilder ideas were surfaced amid a recent influx of Central American migrants during the springtime, which drove the administration into a frenzy as they sought to tamp down the numbers.

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President Donald Trump has floated a number of extraordinary suggestions to fulfill his longstanding goal of halting legal and illegal immigration along the country's southern border.

Most of his ideas have not panned out — they were either illegal, too expensive, or unrealistic to enact. But some have actually been implemented.

Many of the ideas came amid a recent crush of migrants, who arrived at the US-Mexico border in numbers not seen in 12 years. By the spring of 2019, more than 100,000 migrants were apprehended at the border each month.

Apoplectic over the rising numbers, Trump demanded a series of increasingly odd border-security measures, many of which his aides talked him out of.

Here are the most bizarre requests Trump has made to secure the border.

Shooting migrants in the legs to slow them down

Getty Images/John Moore

Trump reportedly made the gruesome request last March, and was quickly told by aides that the idea would be illegal, according to an upcoming book written by two reporters for The New York Times.

The White House did not respond to Insider's request for comment on the suggestion, and Trump himself has not denied it.

It also wasn't the first time he floated the idea of shooting migrants. In public, he once mused about potentially having the US military shoot caravan migrants who threw rocks.

"I hope there won't be that, but I will tell you this — anybody throwing rocks ... we will consider that a firearm, because there's not much difference," Trump said in November 2018.

Digging a moat and filling it with dangerous reptiles

J. Pat Carter/AP

Another outlandish border-security request Trump made was for a water-filled trench inhabited by snakes or alligators to complement the border wall, according to The Times.

His remarks on the idea came amid his fury last spring over a huge influx of Central American asylum-seekers entering the US. Aides reportedly even sought a cost estimate for the reptile-stocked moat.

Trump has denied the story, but The Washington Post reported Thursday that Trump did indeed float the idea during border-security meetings.

Placing spikes on top of the wall that can puncture migrants' flesh

Donald J. Trump/Twitter

Though Trump denied in an October 2 tweet that he'd requested spikes for the wall, he has publicly suggested them before.

Last December, Trump tweeted an image of what he said was a design for a "Steel Slat Barrier" that he said was "totally effective while at the same time beautiful!" The design appeared to feature metal spikes on top of the fencing.

Electrifying the wall

David McNew/AFP/Getty Images

Trump also wanted the border fencing electrified, both The Times and The Post reported, though Trump denied that he wanted it.

Arming the military with bayonets

Getty Images/Barry Williams

Around the same time Trump began sending US soldiers to the border last year, he also suggested arming them with bayonets to prevent them from crossing, The Post reported, citing current and former administration officials.

The Post reported that White House aides did not take his bayonets idea too seriously.

Painting the wall black

The Washington Post/Carolyn Van Houten via Getty Images

In a White House meeting on May 23, Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security and the Army Corps to paint a new border barrier project black, The Post reported.

The idea was that the black coating would absorb heat from the scorching desert sun, and make the structures impossible to climb.

Teams of soldiers carried out Trump's order just weeks later, painting a mile-long section of fencing in Calexico a color known as "matte black" or "flat black."

Trump told reporters while visiting a section of border fence in San Diego, California, in September that he wanted to paint the replacement wall black, but said a general told him it's "better off letting it be a natural rust."

"The black attracts more heat, even than this color," Trump said. "But this is your natural steel and I think we're going to see how it works out. We can paint at it at a later date if we decide to do it."

Draping the border fences with razor wire

Jonathan Clark/Nogales International via AP

US troops hung coils of razor wire from the border fences on Trump's orders, sparking an outcry from border towns in Arizona, California, and Texas.

In some areas, the wire didn't last long. Thieves in Mexico ripped it down and sold it off for home protection, officials said.

Creating a 'human wall'

Getty Images/Sandy Huffaker

Last spring, Trump wanted US soldiers and Border Patrol agents to band together and form a "human wall" that would prevent migrants from reaching the US, where they're legally entitled to request asylum.

The US-Mexico border is 1,933 miles long, and only about 650 miles of it is fenced.

One senior administration official told The Post that the idea came after officials explained to Trump that US law affords all migrants certain rights and protections when they set foot on US soil.

Trump's goal then pivoted to preventing migrants from reaching the country.

"There was definitely a belief that you could put a line of people across the entry line and say, 'You could not enter,'" the official told The Post. "The thing that was explained to him was that even if they set one pinkie toe on US soil, they will get all the rights and protections of a US citizen who has been here 100 years."

Making the wall 'see-through' so people don't get hit with flying sacks of drugs

Reuters/Mike Blake

Trump garnered headlines in the summer of 2017 when he announced the wall would have to be see-through so that people on the US side wouldn't get injured by massive sacks of drugs flung over it.

"One of the things with the wall is you need transparency," Trump said. "You have to be able to see through it. In other words, if you can't see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what's on the other side of the wall."

Though the Trump administration has so far only built replacement fencing, rather than new walls, the barriers have so far conformed to Trump's demands that they be "see through," made with thinly spaced metal slats.

"As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don't see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It's over," Trump said in July 2017.

Simply telling Border Patrol agents not to admit migrants

Getty Images/David Peinado

During Trump's trip in April to the border in Calexico, California, he privately told Border Patrol agents not to allow migrants into the country, according to CNN.

Such an action would be illegal, as US immigration law protects migrants' right to seek asylum in the country. But Trump reportedly told the agents that if judges gave the agents any trouble, they should say, "Sorry judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room."

According to CNN, the agents asked their leaders for advice after Trump left the room, and the leaders responded that agents had to follow the law.

Shutting down the entire border

Mario Vazquez/AFP/Getty Images

Trump issued this demand publicly, repeatedly, at the height of the springtime border surge.

The threat was intended largely to persuade Mexico to be more aggressive in preventing Central American migrants from crossing through the country en route to the US.

Trump was frequently warned by his advisers that shutting down the border would unleash an economic catastrophe, crippling cross-border trade, stranding travelers, and devastating industries like farming and automobile production.

Ultimately, Trump did not shut down the border and Mexico agreed to more tightly monitor its southern border with Guatemala and allow migrants to wait in Mexico while their US asylum cases are processed.