The Pentagon will send more troops to the United States-Mexico border to “construct or upgrade 160 miles of fencing and provide medical care to a steady stream of migrants,” according to reporting by NPR citing military sources.
Fence construction in California and Arizona will be paid by the Department of Defense’s discretionary fund, according to the report.
NPR said the request by the Department of Homeland Security would likely send troops to join the already-deployed 2,300 active troops on the border and 2,100 National Guard members.
Troops in the Rio Grande Valley
In late October, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, alongside Department of Defense officials, announced the deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to “harden,” the southwest border.
Shortly thereafter, preparatory operations began at several ports of entry and bridges along the U.S. southwest, including in Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo, El Paso and Nogales, where CBP, Border Patrol, and military personnel could be seen conducting crowd control exercises while wearing riot gear, and putting up concertina wire in anticipation of a caravan of Central Americans arriving at the respective ports.
Officials at the Progreso-Nuevo Progreso International Bridge, hired contractors to install a pedestrian gate and a vehicle gate on the U.S. side of the bridge as a preventive measure in response to the caravan.
At the time, McAleenan said the military troops would be armed but not allowed to conduct law enforcement duties, and would be acting in support of CBP, U.S. Border Patrol and the more than 2,000 National Guard troops who were sent to the border in April when the administration said a “spike” in illegal entries the month before necessitated the deployment.
In early December, Army Major Scott McCullough told The Monitor that by the end of December, most of the 2,200 active duty soldiers in South Texas, were set to be redeployed to their home bases, “to prepare for other missions.”