The Trump administration will deploy some 2,100 more troops to help “secure the southern land border of the United States,” the Defense Department said in a statement on Wednesday night.
Acting Secretary of Defense Richard Spencer approved the deployment of 1,000 Texas National Guard and 1,100 active-duty troops to the border in the coming weeks, adding to the 4,500 soldiers already stationed there. The troops will assist federal border authorities with aerial surveillance and logistical, operational, and administrative support.
Of the new National Guard troops, 250 will be stationed at ports of entry and airports in Texas as backup for civilian law-enforcement authorities. The remaining 750 will be stationed at two temporary migrant-detention facilities in Donna and Tornillo, Texas to assist Customs and Border Protection officials.
Though troops have been deployed to the border since last April, the latest deployment comes after a spike in illegal crossings. The Department of Homeland Security said that more than 144,000 arrests were made in May, the highest monthly total in 13 years. According to Customs and Border Protection figures, 694,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended this financial year so far, compared to 404,000 in the entirety of 2018.
Deploying more troops is just the latest action in the Trump administration’s ongoing border crackdown. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents swept through major cities last weekend conducting deportation raids, at the president’s direction.
Additionally, a new rule announced by the Justice Department on Monday will see asylum seekers who pass through a ‘safe’ country en route to the US automatically be denied asylum. The rule, expected to come into effect on Thursday, will affect Central American migrants who cross Mexico first before claiming asylum at the American border.
The Defense Department has been pulled into the fray: More and more troops are being sent to the border, and Trump wants to use Pentagon funds to construct more than 100 miles of fencing along it.
The Pentagon said the new deployments had been approved by Acting Secretary of Defense Richard Spencer. The department has not had a permanent secretary since Jim Mattis resigned late last year. President Trump has nominated Mark Esper for the post, and the Senate Armed Services Committee has been considering his nomination this week.
Approximately 6,000 active-duty U.S. troops were deployed to the Mexican border last October, with Trump saying they were needed to address a “national emergency” as caravans of asylum-seeking Central American migrants made their way toward the U.S.
Cover photo: Senior Airman Alexandra Minor/Shutterstock