The Trump administration is planning to send 1,000 additional troops to the U.S. border by the start of next month, a new report claims.
The Washington Post reported that the Pentagon will be expanding the number of troops stationed at the border to 6,000 in March, with the new troops tasked with laying down wire and installing detection systems. A Pentagon official told the outlet that troops have already laid close to 70 miles of concertina wire at the border in their role to assist Border Patrol officers.
“We are now transitioning to supporting [areas] between the ports of entry,” the official said. “We’re laying down another 140 miles of concertina wire — we’re about 30 percent done with that — as well as providing a ground-based detection and monitoring mission in support of CBP.”
As Newsweek reported, the move comes as governors from California and New Mexico ordered their respective states’ National Guard members to be withdrawn from the border. They called Trump’s troop deployment a stunt and said that he is manufacturing the crisis at the U.S. border.
The move to increase the number of troops at the U.S. border also comes after Trump lost a legislative battle in his bid for border wall funding. Trump had demanded that Congress authorize $5.7 billion in funding to start building the wall, but Democrats in Congress refused. After a record-long government shutdown, Trump agreed to re-open the government with a funding deal that did not include the border wall funding.
In response, Donald Trump declared a state of emergency, saying that illegal immigration at the U.S. border is a national crisis. The move is already facing legal challenges, and CNN reported that construction on the border wall would still be months away from beginning. Senior defense officials told the news outlet that the process of allocating funding to start border wall construction is slow, and that the Defense Department is still waiting for authorization from the Department of Homeland Security to provide support for building the wall.
"The aforementioned Pentagon program for countering drug activities apparently has $85 million in unspent funds. Trump intended to take $2.5 billion from it."— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) February 22, 2019
“We’ve asked DHS for input, facts, priorities, we are waiting to receive those, when we do we are going to process that, when I say process that we’ll match that with our mission analysis and begin the process,” said Acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan.
Despite the slow progress, Donald Trump has bragged about work building the border wall — which critics and officials alike say has not yet happened — and created signs for campaign rallies reading “Finish The Wall.”