Defense Secretary James Mattis says there are 5,764 active-duty troops stationed the the U.S.-Mexico border with 2,100 National Guard members. The troops are stationed at border points in Texas, California, and Arizona.
The troops have been deployed by Donald Trump to defend the border against a caravan of thousands of Central Americans who banded together to come to the U.S. in hopes of finding asylum. Trump previously signed an executive order which would have changed the asylum policy, but this was struck down by the federal judge earlier this week.
The judge’s decision sparked a heated back-and-forth between Donald Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts that continued through the Thanksgiving holiday into Friday. Twitter was even more hectic than the stores as the two high-ranking officials used social media to snipe at each other.
Trump has been adamant about his defense of the border ahead of the caravan, which is comprised mainly of families fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras and Guatemala. On Thanksgiving, he threatened to close the entire U.S.-Mexico border to keep the caravan out, as previously reported by Inquisitr.
Deploying troops, even inside the country, is a costly business. In a report from the Pentagon submitted to Congress on Tuesday, the estimated cost of the border mission through December 15 is $72 million, the Associated Press reports. The mission is scheduled to end that day, about 10 days before Christmas. The deployment will last until Hanukkah is over. This year, the Jewish holiday begins on December 2 and ends on December 10.
The National Guard, who have been at the border since April, have already cost about $138 million. Mattis says the $72 million number in the Pentagon report will go up, but did not say by how much.
According to Military Times, $72 million is roughly the cost of an F/A-18E Super Hornet, a Boeing twin-engine fighter jet.
The number does include the cost of eventually sending the troops home, says Pentagon spokesperson Army Col. Robert Manning.
The total cost of the mission at the border will be around $210 million if the current schedule holds.
“The total cost of the operation has yet to be determined and will depend on the total size, duration, and scope of the DoD support to DHS,” said Manning, referring to the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security respectively.
“Based on the current phased force laydown of approximately 5,900 active component personnel through Dec. 15, 2018, the estimated cost to deploy, operate, sustain, and redeploy forces is approximately $72 million. This estimate includes only those DoD forces and support requested and approved as of 19 November 2018.”