US Will Start Withdrawing Troops From Trump’s Mexico Border Mission In Time For Holidays

U.S. Army troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border line up to receive a Thanksgiving meal at a base near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge on November 22, 2018 in Donna, Texas.
Tamir Kalifa / Getty Images

This week, the Pentagon will start removing hundreds of troops who were sent to the US-Mexico border just prior to the midterm elections. According to the Military Times, about 2,200 individuals will withdraw from active service at the border in time for Christmas.

The troops were put in place by President Trump to deal with a caravan of immigrants approaching the border of the US to seek asylum. At one point, there were 5,900 troops in place to assist border patrol by installing fencing, providing transportation, and giving food and supplies to border agents. All told, about 2,200 troops will be pulled from service in the area, adding to the 500 or so that have already left, leaving about 3,000 people in place who will mainly provide military police and helicopter transport.

“Some units have completed their mission and they have already started to partially redeploy. Other units have been identified to rotate home and will be returning home over the next several weeks,” Army Col. Rob Manning said.

When asked for details on when these troops would be removed and exactly how many would be leaving, Manning declined to respond, saying that “the numbers of troops that we have will be commensurate with the support” that Border Protection requests.

Right now, there are 2,200 troops on active duty in Texas, 1,650 in California, and 1,350 in Arizona. Headquarters for the troops will remain in Texas.

Initially, troops were expected to leave on December 15, but at the end of November, Jim Mattis, secretary of defense, said that the mission would be expanded until the end of January at the request of Homeland Security.

Trump has repeatedly characterized the group of migrants as an “invasion.” In one tweet responding to Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum’s statement that the city wasn’t prepared to deal with the number of people in the group, he said that the US wasn’t ready to deal with the “invasion” either.

“Likewise, the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it. They are causing crime and big problems in Mexico. Go home!” Trump replied.

He also called the migrants “criminals” and “Middle Easterners,” an allusion that the group contains terrorists.

The caravan included about 7,500 individuals at its peak, mostly women with children, and began in Honduras. Since they arrived at the border, migrants have been stranded by Trump’s hard line on immigration. Some people have attempted to climb over or dig under the wall that separates Mexico from the United States. One migrant crawled through a hole made in the soil by rain and waited for her partner to hand through her 8-month old son.