The Pentagon could send thousands more troops to the US-Mexico border, a US official said Monday, as President Donald Trump warned a caravan of Central American migrants that the military was waiting.
General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. northern command, said 800 USA troops were already en route to the Texas border and 5,200 would be headed to the south-west region by the end of the week, far higher than the 800 to 1,000 initially forecast.
More than a thousand Honduran migrants broke through a Guatemalan police cordon to reach the river the day before, attempting to join a larger caravan walking toward the United States border. The standoff at the riverbank followed a more violent confrontation that occurred on the bridge over the river Sunday night, when migrants threw rocks and used sticks against Mexico police.
A Border Protection officer stands next to a recently completed section of the wall at the U.S. -Mexico border in Calexico, Calif., on Friday.
The Defense Department says it's sending 5,200 active duty troops to "harden" the southern border against a migrant caravan making its way through Mexico.
A USA official told ABC News that 2,000 active duty troops have already been placed on "prepared to deploy" orders in anticipation of those requests.
Trump, tapped up his dire warnings about the caravans, tweeting, "This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!"
The migrant caravan has been moving slowly north from Central America and its numbers have been dwindling. "But we are going to try".
He is expected to hold 11 rallies in the days ahead of the November 6 midterms, which Washington pundits are characterising as a referendum on his presidency. You know that. The problem is they release them in and then they have the trial, three years later, and nobody shows up."Under current protocol, migrants who clear an initial screening are often released until their cases are decided in immigration court, which can take several years". The trip could be twice as long if the migrants head for the Tijuana-San Diego frontier, as another caravan did earlier this year.
Migrants arriving at the border will now see a sizable USA military presence - more than double the 2,000 who are in Syria fighting the Islamic State group - even though their mission will be largely a support role. His experience with the caravan had taught him one thing, he said: "The next time, I'm going to need a 'coyote, '" or smuggler.
That's because the military is bound by the Posse Comitatus Act, a 19th- century federal law that restricts participation in law enforcement activities. Generally, U.S. troops are authorized to use force in self-defense. Advanced helicopters will allow border protection agents to swoop down on migrants trying to cross illegally, said Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy.
There are already 2,100 National Guard members at the border, sent after a previous request by Mr Trump in April.
O'Shaughnessy said there were about 1,000 troops already in Texas and that will grow to at least 1,800, likely by Wednesday. Only about 200 in that group made it to the border.
Brown said the California troops would help fight transnational criminal gangs and drug and firearms smugglers.
Victor Argueta, 54, of Santa Barbara, Honduras, said he and his wife had spent two nights sleeping on the worldwide bridge between Tecun Uman, Guatemala, and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, before eventually crossing the river on a raft.