President Trump is sending a clear message ahead of the congressional elections next week: he is willing to do whatever it takes to defend the United States from a migrant caravan heading north from central Mexico.
As the caravan continues to creep closer to U.S.-Mexico border, Trump continues to increase the number of troops stationed at the border.
After initially sending just a few hundred troops, the number exponentially grew to 5,000 troops earlier this week. Now, Trump is eyeing around the 10,000 to 15,000 range.
From Associated Press:
President Donald Trump says the number of military troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexican border could reach 15,000 — roughly double the number the Pentagon said it currently plans for a mission whose dimensions are shifting daily.
The Pentagon says “more than 7,000” troops are being sent to the Southwest border to support the Customs and Border Protection agents. Officials say that number could reach a maximum of about 8,000 under present plans.
The troop numbers have been changing at a dizzying pace, with Trump drawing a hard line on immigration in the lead-up to the midterm elections.
Trump’s new troop estimate caught the Pentagon by surprise. Later, he told ABC News, “We have to have a wall of people.”
As NPR reports, Trump said the number of military personnel stationed at the border “will go up to anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 military personnel on top of the Border Patrol, ICE, and everybody else at the border.”
The president’s announcement comes as the midterm elections next week are widely viewed as referendum on his administration. Trump has made it clear that he will make his anti-immigration policies a key issue in the elections.
The original plan to send about 5,000 troops to the border was announced Monday. On Tuesday, Trump said he’s considering changing the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by executive order in order to deny citizenship to people born on U.S. soil. In his remarks Wednesday, Trump repeated his threat to cut off foreign assistance to Central American countries whose people have joined the caravan of migrants moving north to the U.S.
On Wednesday, Trump announced on social media that he would be sending “many more troops” to the southern border.
“Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming,” Trump said in a tweet. “We will NOT let these Caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!”
The president also said he would not be making the same mistake as the country of Mexico which were unable to stop the caravan as it previously crossed into the country from Guatemala.
“The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people. Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan. Should stop them before they reach our Border, but won’t!”
Trump has been accused of using the sizable military force as a showy political stunt ahead of the midterms, but, according to the report, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the U.S. military does “not do stunts.”
“The support that we provide to the secretary for Homeland Security is practical support based on the request from the commissioner of Customs and Border [Protection], so we don’t do stunts in this department,” said Mattis. He added that sending or using military personnel in times of emergency are more common than those on the Left and in mainstream media are making it out to be. Of course, those same people see no problem with thousands of people pouring over the border illegally.
“We do this following storms, we do this in support of the Department of Homeland Security. This is a different aspect of it, but that’s what we are doing,” Mattis continued.