The troops that Donald Trump sent to the U.S.-Mexico border in advance of the arrival of a caravan of migrants seeking asylum are without hot food and electricity and working in sweltering conditions, a new report claims.
Trump has come under fire for announcing that he was sending between 10,000 and 15,000 troops to the border to offer support in advance of the migrant caravan. Critics said it was a ploy before the midterm elections and that the troops were unnecessary given that the migrants were mostly families fleeing violence in Central American countries to seek asylum in the United States, but Trump still characterized the migrants as dangerous criminals and said they planned to invade the U.S.
Trump has mostly backed away from talking about the migrant caravan after the midterm elections ended, but a new report from the New York Times has continued the controversy of the troop deployment. The report noted that 5,600 active duty troops are “still going through the motions of an elaborate mission that appeared to be set into action by a commander in chief determined to get his supporters to the polls,” and that they are operating under difficult conditions.
The report noted that the troops are sleeping in tents at the border meant to house 20 soldiers, with no electricity or air conditioning. Some of the troops have suffered heat exhaustion days into their mission, and they can only eat the pre-made “Ready to Eat” meals rather than hot food prepared in a mess hall, the report noted.
The cost of Donald Trump’s troop deployment has also generated controversy. A report from the Washington Post found that the full cost of Trump’s announced troop deployment to the border would cost $200 million, and the Pentagon reportedly turned down Trump’s original plans for them to act as police officers of sorts when the migrants arrive.
As CNN reported, Pentagon leaders rejected Donald Trump’s request to “provide ‘crowd and traffic control’ and safeguard Customs and Border Protection personnel,” which officials noted would go beyond the duties that U.S. troops are authorized to perform. Instead, the troops have been performing support functions to U.S. Border Patrol, including laying down barbed wire and conducting surveillance.
It is not clear how much longer the 5,600 U.S. troops will be at the Mexican border. The migrant caravan just exited Mexico City this weekend and is expected to take several weeks before reaching the border.