Right before the 2018 midterms, a Homeland Security meeting gave birth to an extreme idea: zapping border migrants with a "heat ray" to make them feel like their skin was burning, former officials tell the New York Times. Customs and Border Protection officials apparently suggested it to Homeland Security leaders, saying the microwave weapon should be set up at the border. Kirstjen Nielsen—then head of the DHS—later told an aide that no such plan would fly on her watch. The so-called Active Denial System was created by the military 20 years ago to disperse crowds, but questions about its effectiveness and morality have pretty much put it on the shelf.
A DHS rep said Wednesday that the notion "was never considered." Trump's reaction—if he even knew about it—is unknown, but he has floated his share of unorthodox border-policy ideas, like shooting immigrants in the legs, placing spikes on the border wall, and populating a border moat with alligators and snakes. He also assembled Nielsen and his White House staff later on Oct. 22, 2018, the day of the DHS meeting, saying "extreme action" was important for stopping migrants. The Hill notes that two former DHS officials, Elizabeth Neumann and Miles Taylor, have lately criticized the Trump administration and lent their support to Joe Biden. (Read more Customs and Border Protection stories.)