The White House's immigration discussion reached a fever pitch in March when President Trump reportedly threw out multiple ideas to stop the flow of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to a new book excerpt, which was published in the New York Times, President Trump suggested building a large water-filled trench along the border. That trench would contain snakes and alligators, aimed at deterring migrants from crossing.
The book was written by two New York Times reporters based on interviews with dozens of anonymous officials. It goes on to say the president also requested an electric border wall with "spikes on top that could pierce human flesh." On top of that, President Trump later proposed shooting migrants in the legs if they tried to cross.
His aides, according to The Times, told him all those ideas were illegal. That led him to the idea of shutting down the border completely if Mexico did not help the U.S. reduce the flow of migrants.
"If they don't stop them, we'll close the border" President Trump told reporters on March 29. "We'll keep it closed for a long time. I'm not playing games."
The president eventually backed off that threat, giving Mexico time to apprehend more migrants and help the U.S. in its immigration crackdown. That didn't stop him from throwing out more hardline ideas, including turning away all migrants. The book goes on to say he promised a pardon for then-Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan if he got in trouble.
The new revelations also touch on the power struggle between key players in the Trump administration.
Then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed back on a number of President Trump's ideas, citing legal concerns. He eventually told Nielsen to leave her post after she said it was not possible to replace the steel barriers with a cement wall.
The president replaced Nielsen with McAleenan, who, along with a new set of immigration officials, have embraced the president's new asylum restrictions.