Pentagon ramps up military activity across border before midterms

02 November, 2018, 09:46 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Migrant caravan takes a break in southern Mexico

US President Donald Trump has ordered through the Pentagon the deployment of no less than 5,200 troops at the US-Mexico border over refugee and migrant influx.

"The president has made it clear that border security is national security", O'Shaughnessy said, as he detailed a much larger deployment that the 800 to 1,000 troops predicted by US officials last week.

The deployment will create an active-duty force comparable in size to the US military contingent in Iraq, as Trump's administration draws attention to a caravan of migrants that is trekking through Mexico toward the United States.

President Donald Trump has been tweeting repeatedly about the caravan, calling significant attention to it ahead of the mid-term elections.

Additionally, officials were monitoring another group of about 3,000 people that had gathered at a border crossing between Guatemala and Mexico.

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"We're going to secure the border", Air Force General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the Northern Command leader, said at a news conference.

But Mexican officials seem intent only on seeing the caravan melt away as it travels toward the United States border.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a group supporting the caravan, 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. We're going to hold them, we're going to build tent cities, we're gonna build tents all over the place.

In an interview Monday, Trump said the USA would build "tent cities" for asylum seekers.

Eight hundred troops already are on their way to southern Texas, O'Shaughnessy said, and their numbers will top 5,200 by week's end.

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Trump says that the US was "going to be prepared" and that the migrants are "not coming into our country".

The deployments thrust the military further into a political fight in which the president increasingly has sought to cast the migrants as a national security threat in the days leading up to the November 6 midterm elections. But there already is a bottleneck of would-be asylum seekers waiting at some USA border crossings to make their claims, some waiting as long as five weeks.

The White House is also weighing additional border security measures, including blocking those traveling in the caravan from seeking legal asylum and preventing them from entering the U.S.

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

Advanced helicopters will enable border protection agents to swoop down on migrants, he said. The military troops are meant to assist the border patrol, not engage directly with migrants, several officials said.

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"Please go back", the president tweeted Monday. Those deployments, which primarily include military police and engineers, began Monday and will continue throughout the week, according to the document. U.S. Transportation Command posted a video on its Facebook page Monday of a C-17 transport plane that it said was delivering Army equipment to the Southwest border in support of the operation.

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