Published: Fri, November 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Pentagon: 5000 Troops Will Be Deployed To U.S.-Mexico Border

Pentagon: 5000 Troops Will Be Deployed To U.S.-Mexico Border

We're going to hold them, we're going to build tent cities, we're gonna build tents all over the place.

McAleenan said the aim of the operation was to deter migrants from crossing illegally, but he conceded his officers were overwhelmed by a surge of asylum seekers at border crossings.

"If you wanna wait, they don't usually get asylum".

A previous migrant caravan this year ended with about 200 people at the border between Tijuana and San Diego in early May, where they turned themselves over to authorities on the USA side and applied for asylum.

Kevin McAleenan, the top US border security official, said the decision to send troops was not motivated by electoral politics but rather was a law enforcement necessity, as USA agents prepare for the possibility that crowds of migrants will amass and turn unruly. He has drawn attention to a caravan of migrants that is trekking through Mexico toward the United States as he seeks to fire up support for his Republican party.

The migrant caravan has been moving slowly north from Central America and its numbers have been dwindling.

CBP Assistant Commissioner of Public Affairs Andrew Meehan said in a news conference Monday afternoon that there are approximately 3,500 people in one group, which is now at the Chiapas-Oaxaca border in southern Mexico.

Now there are 2,100 National Guard helping at the border. So said General Terrence O'Shaughnessy during a joint Defense Department and Customs and Border Protection press briefing Monday.

He is expected to hold 11 rallies in the days ahead of the November 6 midterms, which Washington pundits are characterizing as a referendum on his presidency.

Kevin McAleenan, the USA commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, estimated on Monday that the caravan was comprised of about 3,500 migrants.

"Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border", Trump wrote.

The Pentagon last week approved a request for additional troops at the southern border. The troops expected to be sent to the border will primarily consist of military police and engineers, but the military also reportedly plans to send Marines. It remained unclear Monday why the administration was choosing to send active-duty troops given that they will be limited to performing the same support functions the Guard already is doing.

The projected US deployment is already roughly the same size as the USA military contingent in Iraq.

Mattis told reporters traveling with him Sunday that the deployment was still being worked out, but that the additional troops would provide logistical and other support to the Border Patrol and bolster the efforts of the approximately 2,000 National Guard forces already there.

Perhaps Trump doesn't understand that it is legal for anyone on US soil, even if they arrived without documentation or authorization, to claim asylum and start a legal process that can end with them being allowed to stay.

The caravan remains at least 900 miles from US territory, so its arrival is not imminent.

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