Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to sign an order to send at least 800 additional troops to the United States-Mexico border, as a migrant caravan consisting of thousands of migrants primarily from Central America heads that way.
The group, which is mostly in Mexico and heading north, has caught the ire of top American officials, including President Donald Trump, who has vowed not to let them illegally enter the country.
Trump previously said he would send the military to the border if Mexican authorities failed to stop the caravan, which they have.
“I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught—and if unable to do so I will call up the U.S. Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!” he said on Oct. 18 via Twitter.
Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council is right when he says on @foxandfriends that the Democrat inspired laws make it tough for us to stop people at the Border. MUST BE CHANDED, but I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2018
Trump added on Thursday, Oct. 25, “I am bringing out the military for this national emergency. They will be stopped!”
A source told the Associated Press that Mattis was soon expected to sign an order issuing the troops.
Three sources told CNN that the troops would not engage in lethal operations to stop the migrants, but are expected to help erect fencing and other barriers to stop the migrants. The troops are also expected to provide tents and medical care for Border Patrol agents and other officers patrolling the border.
It’s not yet clear if the deployment will come from the National Guard or active duty troops.
The National Guard already has about 2,100 troops working along the border, reported Military Times.
In April, Mattis authorized as many as 4,000 troops to the border, pending approval of certain state governors, many of whom approved.
The memo enabled the cost of deployment to be reimbursed to the states from federal funds but also said that the National Guard couldn’t interact directly with migrants or take on a law enforcement role.
Almost all of the Guard forces currently at the border are from Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona; a full 1,000 are from Texas alone.
The ones from Texas aren’t armed and are helping in key support roles such as running motor pools so more Customs and Border Protection agents can work directly along the border, said Texas Army National Guardsmen spokesman Maj. Joshua G. Amstutz.
Those support roles include “aerial detection, maintaining and repairing vehicles, and providing logistical support so that the Border Patrol is able to get badges back on the border to enforce the law,” Amstutz said.