As the thousands-strong migrant caravan edges closer towards the U.S.-Mexico border, the Pentagon has announced that it will deploy at least 5,200 active duty military troops in an effort to prevent foreigners from illegally entering the country. Earlier this year, 2,100 National Guard troops from multiple states were called to protect the border following an order from President Donald Trump when a former caravan attempted to gain entry.
USA Today reports that the Defense Department’s “Operation Faithful Patriot” will not have troops conducting law enforcement activities, but instead provide support to Border Patrol agents manning the southern border. The number of deployed troops could possibly increase if the caravan, which is currently 1,000 miles from the U.S., grows in number or if greater demands are placed on U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of U.S. Northern Command, said at a Monday press conference when asked about the development, “That is just the start of this operation.” He added, “Border security is national security.”
O’Shaughnessy explained the deployment will also include helicopter and other aviation units to help identify anyone trying to illegally cross the border and will have border patrol agents apprehend them. The operation will also include engineering units to build temporary barriers at ports of entry and temporary housing for U.S. personnel.
President Trump is expected to deliver a speech later this week to outline further actions to halt the migrant caravan, which he says is an “assault on our country.”
It is currently unclear how many migrants will apply for asylum before attempting to cross the U.S. border, or if any of the traveling migrants will stop in Mexico to end their journey. As the massive crowd tore their way across the border from Guatemala into Mexico last week, when it numbered over 4,000, some migrants exclaimed, “We are going to the United States!” Others added, “Nobody is going to stop us!