Trump Sends 5,200 Troops To Mexico Border As Caravan Advances

The United States said on Monday it will send over 5,200 troops to help secure the border with Mexico, a far larger-than-expected deployment.

The deployment will create an active-duty force comparable in size to the U.S. military contingent in Iraq, as Trump’s administration draws attention to a caravan of migrants that is trekking through Mexico toward the United States.

U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents take part in drills at crossing gates. Image: Reuters

General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command, said 800 U.S. troops were already en route to the Texas border and more were headed to the borders in California and Arizona.

“The president has made it clear that border security is national security,” O’Shaughnessy said, as he detailed a much larger deployment that the 800 to 1,000 troops predicted by U.S. officials last week.

U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents take part in drills at crossing gates. Image: Reuters

O’Shaughnessy said some soldiers would be armed although it was unclear who, beyond U.S. military police, might need those weapons.

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Migrants walk along train tracks in Mexico. Image: Reuters

U.S. officials have stressed that the troops would not police the border and instead carry out support roles like building tents and barricades, and flying U.S. customs personnel to locations along the border.

Trump railed against illegal immigration to win the 2016 U.S. presidential election and has seized on the caravan of Central American migrants at campaign rallies in the run-up to next week’s vote, firing up support for his Republican Party.

Migrants part of the caravan hitchhike on a truck en route to the U.S. Image: Reuters

Trump said the United States would build “tent cities” to house migrants seeking asylum, rather than releasing them while they await court decisions.

“We’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars - we’re going to have tents,” he told Fox News in an interview.

U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents take part in drills at crossing gates. Image: Reuters

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Trump said detaining asylum seekers while their cases are being decided would discourage others from following suit.