Defense Secretary James Mattis approved a request for additional troops to be sent to the Mexico-United States border as a looming migrant caravan continues to near.
Officials are estimating the number of additional units will exceed 800 troops and that they will join the 2,000 existing troops currently stationed at the border.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis delivers remarks at a security summit in Manama, Bahrain. https://t.co/z7GHF0SVqd
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 27, 2018
From Fox News:
Officials are looking at sending 800 troops, but one official called that estimate “the floor” – saying it could increase as military planners work through the request from DHS to help the Border Patrol.
The formal approval comes after President Trump announced earlier he’s “bringing out the military” to address what he’s calling a national emergency at the border. Thousands of Central American migrants are now making their way through Mexico in hopes of reaching the United States.
The additional troops are to provide what one official described as logistical support to the Border Patrol. The support troops would include engineers, as well as medical and aviation support units.
BREAKING: AP source: Defense Secretary Mattis expected to sign order to send at least 800 troops to US-Mexico border.
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 25, 2018
A statement from the Pentagon clarified that the additional troops would not be used to physically detain the migrants, but would instead be offering “assistance” and “engineering support,” along with some other aspects.
The statement read: “The DoD will provide Defense Support of Civil Authorities with planning assistance, engineering support (temporary barriers, barricades, and fencing), fixed and rotary wing aviation support to move CBP personnel, medical teams to triage, treat and prepare for commercial transport of patients, command and control facilities, temporary housing for CBP personnel, and personal protective equipment for CBP personnel.”
The idea of stationing troops at the border was contested by several liberal parties as a perceived violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which Fox News reports “prohibits the federal government from using the armed forces in a domestic police role.”
But, because the troops are not enforcing national immigration laws, they are not fulfilling a “police role” and thus do not violate the federal law.
Today, #SecDef Mattis has approved a request for additional military personnel to support the Department of #HomelandSecurity’s border control efforts there. @DHSgov
Read more: https://t.co/n6Ja3xGRkP pic.twitter.com/15jWJYRwQi
— U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) October 26, 2018
The migrant caravan has been used repeatedly by the Trump administration in calls for tighter, more restrictive immigration laws. President Trump even petitioned voters to “vote red” in the upcoming congressional elections so Republicans can maintain majorities in both legislative chambers — which would then further Trump’s immigration policies and border wall funding.
The United States has been spending Billions of Dollars a year on Illegal Immigration. This will not continue. Democrats must give us the votes to pass strong (but fair) laws. If not, we will be forced to play a much tougher hand.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2018
Earlier in the week, President Trump advised the migrant caravan to “turn around” and said he would not permit them to enter the U.S.
To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally. Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2018
Trump also threatened that he would be “cutting off, or substantially reducing” foreign aid to countries which allowed the caravan to freely pass through it:
Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018