U.S. troops are already hitting the country’s border with Mexico and setting up to give support to Customs and Border Protection at hotspots where officials think a migrant caravan may attempt to enter the country.
Nearly 1,000 U.S. troops deployed to areas near McAllen and Brownsville in Texas, San Ysidro, California, and Nogales, Arizona, as part of Operation Faithful Patriot, U.S. officials said, according to a Friday report from The Wall Street Journal.
The San Ysidro port of entry was the crossing location for almost 200 migrants who were part of a caravan this past spring.
The caravan currently snaking its way through Mexico is roughly 800 miles away from the closest spot where the Central American migrants could cross the U.S.-Mexico border, reported WSJ. That means the closest migrants could near the U.S. in about three weeks, a U.S. official said according to The Journal.
The Journal estimates the caravan is made up of “about 4,000 would-be asylum seekers.”
The troops represent a fraction of the roughly 7,000 active-duty members that the Department of Defense said it would send to provide services like “logistics, medical care and transport support” to Customs and Border Protection officials until mid-December, reported The Journal.
More than 2,500 troops have reached staging bases, a Defense Department official told Fox News Thursday night. “Several thousand” more troops are expected to arrive in Texas, California and Arizona, Fox News reported.
The busiest area where the troops were sent is near the San Ysidro port that is south of San Diego (the troops are not being deployed to ports but “nearby staging areas,” officials told The Journal). San Ysidro saw a 124 percent increase in “migrants traveling with their families” from fiscal year 2017 to 2018. More than 15,000 people were received there in the fiscal year 2018, according to The Journal.
“San Ysidro would require the longest route for the nearest approaching caravan, but that destination is peppered with support facilities such as legal aid and is considered safer for travel,” reported The Journal.
Operation Faithful Patriot is “the largest single deployment of troops during Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s nearly two-year tenure,” reported The Journal.
Mattis pushed back against a reporter who implied deploying troops was a political stunt.
“Yeah, the support that we provide to the Secretary for Homeland Security is practical support based on the request from the Commissioner of Customs and Border Police,” Mattis said Wednesday. “We don’t do stunts in this department, thank you.”
Twelve caravan migrants have already filed a lawsuit Thursday against President Donald Trump and the Department of Homeland Security for supposed violation of their constitutional rights.
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