Donald Trump’s decision to send U.S. troops to the Mexican border weeks ahead of the arrival of a migrant caravan was criticized as an election stunt. Now, the final bill for the deployment is generating even more controversy.
This week, the Pentagon revealed that it cost American taxpayers $72 million for the troops that had been sent to the border to support Border Patrol by putting up fencing and offering surveillance. As the New Statesman reported, the sum is in addition to the earlier activation of the National Guard, which cost another $138 million. Together, the report noted that “one of the most bare-faced and cynical election stunts in American history” will cost $210 million.
The report accused Trump of only focusing on the migrant caravan as a way to invigorate his Republican base in border states ahead of the midterm elections. The New Statesman noted that the migrant caravan is an annual event as asylum-seekers from Central America travel together to the United States seeking a better life, which did not earn Trump’s attention before the midterms.
Even some Republicans attacked Donald Trump for the troop deployment. Senator Jeff Flake, a frequent critic of the president, noted that some of the troops were stationed in Tuscon, Arizona, about 90 minutes from the border.
“So they’re not forward deployed actually on the border,” Flake said in a November interview (via Fox News). “So I think you can’t call it anything but a stunt here. And it’s unfortunate that they’re going to be away from family during the holidays coming up, and we just don’t know what really for.”
Some of the troops deployed to the border have already begun coming home, with CNN estimating that around 2,700 troops were taken off the border. There are still between 2,500 and 4,000 at the border, the report noted.
The price tag on the border troop deployment was released amid more controversy for Donald Trump. This week, he threatened to shut down the U.S. government if Congress did not authorize $5 billion to build the border wall.
In a televised meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Trump said he would be proud to be the one who stopped federal government functions in a quest to get money to build the wall.
“I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down,” he said (via the Associated Press).
Donald Trump was later blasted by Pelosi, who told lawmakers that the wall quest was “like a manhood thing for him… as if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing.”