Trump smiled and joked after a supporter at a rally yelled that Border Patrol should 'shoot' migrants at the border

donald trumpPresident Donald Trump speaks at a rally in in Panama City Beach, Florida on May 8, 2019.Associated Press/Evan Vucci

  • President Donald Trump smiled and joked after a supporter at his Florida rally yelled that migrants crossing the US-Mexico border should be shot.
  • Trump had mentioned how Border Patrol agents cannot use violence to prevent migrants from entering the country, and asked how to "stop these people."
  • "Shoot them!" the supporter yelled, as Trump smiled and joked that "only in the Panhandle you can get away with this stuff."
  • Critics have seized on Trump's failure to explicitly condemn the remark, noting that just last month a vigilante militia group detained hundreds of migrants at gunpoint.
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President Donald Trump smiled and joked on Wednesday night after a supporter at his rally yelled "shoot them" when Trump asked how migrants should be stopped from crossing the border.

In his remarks in Panama City Beach, Florida, Trump addressed the surge of migrants who have crossed the US-Mexico border to seek asylum in recent months. The rising numbers have long enraged Trump and fueled his cries of a "crisis" at the border.

At one point in his speech, Trump noted that US Border Patrol agents can't use violence to prevent migrants from entering the country.

"Don't forget: we don't let them, and we can't let them, use weapons. We can't," Trump told the crowd. "Other countries do. We can't. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people? You can't."

"Shoot them!" one person in the audience shouted, as some in the crowd clapped and cheered, while others grimaced.

Read more: The number of migrants apprehended at the US-Mexico border just keeps going up

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In response, Trump paused, before smiling and shaking his head.

"That's only in the Panhandle you can get away with this stuff," Trump said. "Only in the Panhandle!"

Though Trump did not explicitly support the idea of using violence against migrants at the border, his failure to condemn the supporter's remark sparked concern from critics of Trump's immigration policies.

Some noted that violence against migrants at the border is already a reality - in April, a vigilante militia group filmed themselves detaining hundreds of migrants at gunpoint while they waited for Border Patrol to arrive.

The group's leader was soon arrested after the incident and the Customs and Border Protection agency warned against private groups taking "matters into their own hands."

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