The U.S. is sending 5,200 active-duty troops this week to “harden” the border with Mexico, officials announced Monday.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Sunday that the military has already begun delivering jersey barriers to the southern border in conjunction with plans to deploy active duty troops there.
For the past week, President Donald Trump has been calling attention to the caravan heading by foot into southern Mexico, but it is still hundreds of miles from U.S. soil. On Monday, Trump issued another threat, calling the effort an “invasion” and declaring, the “Military is waiting for you.”
The Wall Street Journal reported the planned deployment was likely to be much higher than officials had disclosed late last week when preliminary figures of 800 to 1,000 were cited. The Journal reported that the Pentagon plans to deploy 5,000 troops, mainly military police and engineers.
he additional troops will provide logistical and other support to the Border Patrol, and will bolster the efforts of the approximately 2,000 National Guard forces already there. The new forces are expected to provide logistical assistance such as air support and equipment, including vehicles and tents.
National Guard troops routinely perform those same functions, so it is not clear why active duty forces are being used. Active duty troops are rarely deployed within the United States except for domestic emergencies like hurricanes or floods.
The previous caravan dwindled in size to a few hundred before reaching the border in April. It resulted in federal illegal entry charges against 11 suspected members of the group, one of whom was also charged with illegal reentry.