President Trump’s Acting Defense Secretary, Patrick Shanahan, has confirmed that thousands more U.S. troops are being sent to the border with Mexico to boost numbers. They will be tasked with increasing surveillance along stretches of the border as well as stringing up razor wire in an effort to stop people from entering the country illegally.
According to the Daily Mail, Shanahan has been asked to send reinforcements by the Department of Homeland Security to supplement the 2,350 U.S servicemen who are also stationed at the border.
An unnamed official is reported to have said the additional troops will number around 2,000 but refused to confirm the precise amount. Despite the sharp increase, troop numbers at the border are still not expected to reach the level they were at last November when around 5,900 troops were stationed there.
Speaking at a news conference, Patrick Shanahan said, “DHS has asked us to support them… and we’ve responded with: ‘Here’s how many people it would take.”
The additional troops are expected to string at least 150 additional miles of razor wire along the most vulnerable areas of the border.
The Pentagon has also confirmed that U.S. military will be operating mobile surveillance cameras along the Mexico border in the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas. That operation is expected to run until at least 30 September.
Additional troops at the border have been welcomed by Republicans and supporters of President Donald Trump. He is currently pushing hard for funding to build a border wall to try and prevent illegal migrants from being able to cross into the United States from Mexico.
Democrats have dismissed the increase in troop numbers as little more than a political stunt designed to increase support for the wall and get Republican voters out for the upcoming mid-term elections.
The new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Smith questioned Pentagon officials yesterday on the objectives and costs of the deployment.
He said at the hearing, “There really isn’t much evidence of [a border] crisis” before noting that the number of illegal immigrants arrested at the Mexico border had declined sharply in recent years.
In an interview after the hearing, Smith indicated that he may move to introduce funding restrictions for such deployments in the future, saying that what was needed was more judges rather than more troops.
“It’s undeniable that we have a significant increase in asylum seekers,” Smith said. “But that’s not so much a job for the military as it is: we need more judges. We need to process them (the asylum seekers) more quickly.”