A new book about US President Donald Trump’s attempts to stymie migration through the US-Mexico border has caused a stir online but also drawn criticism for the length of time it took the journalists to make the claims public.
Titled Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration, the book includes claims that the Republican leader had floated the idea of using soldiers to shoot migrants trying to cross the southern border into the US.
After being told the idea was illegal, Trump inquired as to whether they could shoot migrants in the leg instead, to which he received the same response.
The book also contains descriptions of private conversations Trump had with his aides, in which he proposes installing a water-filled trench across the border filled with alligators and snakes. Another suggestion included an electrified wall with spikes that could pierce human flesh.
The authors of the book Michael D Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis are publishing the accounts several months after first coming across them - a fact that is the subject of debate on social media.
Some of those commenting on the story argued that a matter so strongly in the public interest should not have been “sat on” for so long.
“Can reporters hold onto explosive details to pump up sales upon release?” Wrote one Twitter user.
“I'm adding "books by its reporters" to my New York Times boycott. Your job is to inform citizens in a timely manner, not when it's best for your bank account,” wrote another.
Another added: “Goddamn, you write the article and THEN write the book! It's not even that hard. If that scoop is the hinge pin of the book it's not going to sell anyway because excerpts of the important bits are all over.”
Others defended the journalists, suggesting that the revelations were not out of the ordinary with regard to the Trump administration, and there was therefore not as pressing a need to publish them earlier.
“If dead children, kids in cages, pulling breastfeeding babes from moms, locking up legal immigrants & US citizens, withholding healthcare & sexual abuse didn’t matter, why would an order to shoot ppl in the leg or pipe dreams of a snake- & alligator-filled moats make a difference?” Wrote journalist Tara Haelle.
Immigration has been the focal issue of the Trump presidency, as it was during his campaign to become president. During the course of his rule, Trump has introduced measures banning citizens of several Muslim-majority nations from entering the US and has implemented strong measures separating migrant families who manage to cross the border and are later detained by US border officials.
“I ran on this. It’s my issue,” Trump is reported to have chastised his subordinates when they voiced reservations about his ideas.