U. S. will deploy 5,200 additional troops to the Mexican border, officials say

Senior U.S. officials said Monday that some 5,200 additional U.S. troops will deploy to the border with Mexico by the end of the week, as President Trump likened a caravan of Central American migrants who are heading north to “an invasion.”

The deployments, occurring under an operation known as Faithful Patriot, already are underway, said Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the chief of U.S. Northern Command. He said the military, working alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection, will focus first on hardening the border in Texas, followed by Arizona and California.

The deployments will include three combat engineer battalions, members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and troops who specialize in aviation, medical treatment and logistics, O’Shaughnessy said. He highlighted the deployment of helicopters, which will deploy with night-vision capabilities and sensors that will help CBP determine where they need to be.

“We’ll be able to spot and identify groups and rapidly deploy CBP personnel where they are needed,” he said.

O’Shaughnessy said that the Pentagon also will deploy military police units and cargo aircraft, including three C-130s and one C-17. Combined command posts will be established to integrate U.S. military and CBP efforts.

“As we sit right here today, we have about 800 soldiers who are on their way to Texas right now,” the general said. “They’re coming from Fort Campbell. They’re coming from Fort Knox. They’re moving closer to the border. They’re going to continue their training, and they’re ready to deploy to actually be employed on the border.”

The Pentagon already has sent 22 miles of concertina wire to the border, and has enough additional wire to cover 150 miles, he said.

Earlier Monday, Trump tweeted accusations about the caravan without citing any evidence.

“Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border,” Trump said. “Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

The White House has sought to make immigration the top issue of the Nov. 6 midterm elections, confident that Trump’s hard-line enforcement message will continue to drive his conservative base to the polls and even draw some crossover appeal among more-moderate voters. The president has latched on to the migrant caravan, helping draw attention to the group and labeling it a national security threat.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration is considering several administrative actions on the southern border, though she declined to describe the options publicly. Trump will do what “he deems necessary” on immigration, Sanders said. 

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Dan Lamothe and Nick Miroff