Report: Trump Officials Discussed Using ‘Heat Ray’ Weapon Against Migrants

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead / Public Domain


The 'heat ray' device had previously been largely abandoned over questions of effectiveness and morality.

According to The New York Times, Trump administration officials discussed the possibility of using a microwave weapon against migrants at the southern U.S. border in an effort to deter the alleged caravans of people President Trump warned about ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

  • “Fifteen days before the 2018 midterm elections, as President Trump sought to motivate Republicans with dark warnings about caravans heading to the U.S. border, he gathered his Homeland Security secretary and White House staff to deliver a message: ‘extreme action’ was needed to stop the migrants,” The Times wrote.
  • That same afternoon, Customs and Border Protection officials met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security and “suggested deploying a microwave weapon — a ‘heat-ray’ designed by the military to make people’s skin feel like it is burning when they get within range of its invisible beams.”

Developed by the military as a crowd dispersal tool two decades ago, the Active Denial System had been largely abandoned amid doubts over its effectiveness and morality.

  • The Times reported that two former officials who attended the October 22, 2018, meeting said attendees were shocked by the suggestion that the device be installed at the border.
  • “Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of Homeland Security told an aide after the meeting that she would not authorize the use of such a device, and it should never be brought up again in her presence,” the officials told the newspaper.
  • DHS spokesperson Alexei Woltornist told The Times on Wednesday that “it was never considered.”

But the discussion in the fall of 2018 underscored how Mr. Trump’s obsession with shutting down immigration has driven policy considerations, including his suggestions of installing flesh-piercing spikes on the border wall, building a moat filled with snakes and alligators and shooting migrants in the legs.

Read the full report.


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