The US is going send an additional 3,750 troops to its frontier with Mexico, the Pentagon said on Sunday, as US President Donald Trump doubled down on his call for a wall to boost border security.
Soldiers were originally deployed to the border under an order Trump gave before midterm elections in November last year as “caravans” of migrants made their way to the border to seek asylum from violence and poverty in their own countries.
However, the mission, under which troops assist civilian border patrol agents by providing logistical support and installing concertina-wire fencing, has been described by opponents as a political stunt designed to create the illusion of a crisis.
“The Department of Defense will deploy approximately 3,750 additional US forces to provide the additional support to CBP [Customs and Border Protection] at the southwest border that Acting Secretary of Defense [Pat] Shanahan approved Jan. 11,” a statement said.
This additional deployment is for three months and would bring to 4,350 the total number of troops at the border, the statement added.
Their tasks will include “a mobile surveillance capability through the end of September 2019, as well as the emplacement of approximately 150 miles of concertina wire between ports of entry,” it said.
The announcement came ahead of a Friday next week deadline that Trump set for the US Congress to agree on funding for building a border wall which he made a key pledge in his election campaign.
The US president has said that existing sections of walls should be extended along the border to stop what he describes as an uncontrolled invasion of criminals.
Trump underscored these claims on Sunday.
“With Caravans marching through Mexico and toward our Country, Republicans must be prepared to do whatever is necessary for STRONG Border Security,” he tweeted. “Dems do nothing. If there is no Wall, there is no Security. Human Trafficking, Drugs and Criminals of all dimensions - KEEP OUT!”
Democrats, who control the US House of Representatives, have repeatedly rejected Trump’s funding demands.
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