United States sending thousands of troops to Mexico border

April FrancisNov 02, 2018

United States officials last week said about 800 active-duty troops would be sent to provide assistance - mainly in the form of logistical support - to border guards working along the frontier.

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.

Trump says in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham that if any of the migrants, who are still hundreds of miles away, do make it to the border and apply for asylum, as they're legally entitled, the USA plans to "hold them until such time as their trial takes place".

The total military deployment means the number of troops at the south-western border will exceed the USA troops now in Syria and Iraq, the Wall Street Journal notes. A second group of about 3,000 migrants is at the border crossing between Guatemala and Mexico, he said.

When asked if the US military was being used as part of a political stunt, O'Shaughnessy noted that the USA military routinely partners with the Department of Homeland Security on a host of operations.

President Donald Trump put it more bluntly when he tweeted Monday, "This is an invasion of our country and our military is waiting for you".

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan warned Monday that other similar caravans were being organized in Central America. "We will continue to adjust the number and inform you of those", General O'Shaughnessy said.

Homeland Security and Pentagon officials said that the soldiers would focus on helping secure key points of entry into the United States.

Planning documents show that several military police companies will head to Lackland and Camp Pendleton in California, while two medical companies will deploy to Lackland and Davis-Montham.

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Federal law stipulates that active duty forces can not act in a law enforcement capacity, and, therefore, will be limited to acting in support of CBP.

Under the Posse Comitatus Act, federal troops are mostly prohibited from engaging in domestic law enforcement activities. They will not have arresting power and won't interact with migrants. The deployment has been named "Operation Faithful Patriot".

There are 2,100 US National Guard forces at the border already, sent after a previous request by Mr Trump in April.

Asked about the use of weapons, O'Shaughnessy said the active-duty troops have been given clear guidance on the use of force and there will be unit and individual training to make sure they know what they can and can't do. However, some lawmakers dismissed the new deployment as a political stunt by the White House just a week before the November 6 midterm elections.

"If they apply for asylum, we're going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place".

Trump's decision to call in the military appears to be a departure from past practice, at least in recent years, in which such operations were carried out by National Guard forces - largely part-time military members who are often called upon to serve in response to domestic emergencies.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who has been a vocal opponent of Trump's immigration policies, voiced his objection Monday to deploying more than 5,000 troops.

Children of migrants wait for a ride near Tapanatepec, Mexico, as their caravan continues toward the USA border, October 29, 2018.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Friday that the move was consistent with actions taken by past presidents.

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