The Latest: Pentagon sending 5,200 troops to border
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and immigration (all times local):
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.
Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy tells reporters that 800 soldiers were en route on Monday and that the remainder of the troops would be at the southwest border by the end of the week.
That’s in addition to the more than 2,000 members of the National Guard already providing assistance at the border now. Officials say the troops will provide “mission enhancing capabilities” and will be armed.
The announcement comes as President Donald Trump has been trying to focus on the caravan just a week before the midterm elections.
The migrant caravan has been moving slowly north from Central America and its numbers have been dwindling.
Three U.S. officials say the number of military troops deployed to the southern border in support of the Customs and Border Patrol could be in the thousands.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a troop plan that was not yet completed and had not yet been approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
The Wall Street Journal reported the planned deployment was likely to be much higher than officials had disclosed late last week when preliminary figures of 800 to 1,000 were cited. The Journal reported that the Pentagon plans to deploy 5,000 troops, mainly military police and engineers.
The troops are expected to perform a wide variety of functions such as transporting supplies for the Border Patrol, but not engage directly with migrants seeking to cross the border from Mexico, officials said.
–By Robert Burns and Colleen Long
President Donald Trump is escalating his threats against a migrant caravan traveling to the U.S. border, labelling the effort an “invasion” and declaring the “Military is waiting for you.”
Trump tweeted Monday about the caravan of several thousand Central American migrants moving through Mexico, saying no one will be admitted “unless you go through the legal process.”
Trump also said the group includes “Gang Members and some very bad people.” He has made similar claims before without offering evidence.
The president has stepped up his focus on immigration in the days leading up to the midterm elections.
The Pentagon last week approved a request for additional troops at the southern border. The White House is also weighing additional border security measures.
The U.S. military has already begun delivering jersey barriers to the southern border in conjunction with plans to deploy active duty troops there. That word comes from U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as a caravan of Central Americans slowly heads across Mexico toward the United States.
Mattis told reporters traveling with him Sunday that details of the deployment are still being worked out but he should have them Sunday night. They will include exactly how many forces are needed. It was unclear when the details will be made public.
The additional troops will provide logistical and other support to the Border Patrol, and will bolster the efforts of the approximately 2,000 National Guard forces already there.