Pentagon: 5,200 US Troops Headed to Border with Mexico

02 November, 2018, 01:00 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Migrant caravan takes a break in southern Mexico

General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command, said 800 U.S. troops were already en route to the Texas border and more were headed to the borders in California and Arizona.

The Defense Department says it's sending 5,200 active duty troops to "harden" the southern border against a migrant caravan making its way through Mexico.

Mr Trump, who has seized upon the Central American migrant caravan in campaign rallies ahead of the vote, said on Twitter that the military would be waiting for the procession - suggesting a far more direct role in confronting the migrants than USA defence officials have previously suggested. On Monday he said he wants build tent cities to house asylum seekers, and on Tuesday he floated the possibility of ending the constitutional right to USA citizenship for babies born in the country to non-citizens.

"We go for about a month, I stopped counting the days, we are helped by Almighty God and the good people you meet on the way", says this mother of a family. On Monday he tweeted: "This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!"

Among soldiers deploying will be Army Corps of Engineers personnel and three battalions of Army combat engineers who will focus on such operation as building temporary barriers along the border and constructing shelters to house a potential influx of CBP agents, O'Shaughnessy said. The standoff at the riverbank followed a more violent confrontation on the border bridge over the river Sunday night, when migrants threw rocks and used sticks against Mexico police.

The extraordinary military operation comes a week before the November 6 midterm elections as Trump has sought to transform fears about the caravan and immigration into electoral gains.

It remains unclear why the administration was choosing to send active-duty troops given that they will be limited to performing the support functions the Guard already is doing. "We have seen no evidence that it was helpful or effective when he sent the National Guard to the border in April".

"By the end of the week, we will deploy over 5,200 soldiers to the southwest border", Air Force General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, head of the USA military's Northern Command, told reporters. "If you want to wait, they don't usually get asylum".

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The number of people in the first migrant caravan headed toward the US has dwindled to about 4,000 from about 7,000 last week, though a second one was gaining steam and marked by violence.

Mexico, meanwhile, has also been tightening security on its southern border, where migrants often use rafts to cross the Suchiate river.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras, who helped organize the caravan and has been deeply involved with its continuation, has said it hopes to hold meetings in Mexico City with federal lawmakers and authorities as well as representatives of the incoming government to discuss migrants' rights and the caravan's future.

Under the Posse Comitatus Act, federal troops are mostly prohibited from engaging in domestic law enforcement activities.

They will bring border "personnel exactly where they need to be, regardless of the conditions", he said.

Thousands have already dropped out, applying for refugee status in Mexico or taking the Mexican government up on free bus rides back home, and the group is likely to dwindle even more during the arduous journey ahead.

United States officials have told Reuters the support mission would be coordinated by the U.S. military's Northern Command.

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