Thanks to a caravan of Central American migrants which has more or less stalled out in Mexico while on its way to the United States, President Trump announced plans to "deploy U.S. troops" to the southern border to guard against illegal crossings into the country "until we have a wall."
Today we learn from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that Trump is signing an executive order on Wednesday directing the National Guard to deploy troops to "assist the border patrol."
Homeland Security Sec. Nielsen announces Pres. Trump will sign an executive order to deploy the National Guard to "assist the border patrol." pic.twitter.com/U1Nba3WV5a— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) April 4, 2018
Speaking during the Wednesday White House press briefing, Nielsen pitched the deployment as a method of strengthening an immigration system that "rewards bad behavior," such as drug smuggling and border crossings.
“Border security is homeland security, which is national security,” Nielsen said, adding “It’s not a partisan issue.”
There is no word on how many troops will be deployed, for how long, nor the cost of the operation - however we assume it will be an ongoing guard until Trump's wall is built (or perhaps until January 21, 2021 after Trump loses the next election because he never built it).
“It will be strong. It will be as many as needed to fill the gaps we have today,” Nielsen said when asked about logistics “We do hope the deployment will begin immediately.”
The troops will initially serve in a support role and will not actually participate in the arrest and detention of migrants who cross the border illegally.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement following Wednesday's announcement:
“Earlier this week, media outlets reported that a so-called ‘migrant caravan’ was making its way through Mexico with the intent of illegally crossing the southern border of the United States. The President was clear that this caravan needed to be stopped before it arrived at our southern border, and his efforts now appear to be successful. But let me be clear as well: we will not accept the lawlessness of these types of efforts and those who choose to violate our laws, and those who conspire to assist others to violate our laws, will face criminal prosecution.
We will have a more efficient and effective immigration court system that supplies due process. As such, aliens who enter our country illegally should be aware that the government will use any and all lawful tools, including expedited removal and prompt immigration proceedings, to ensure that our immigration courts will not be burdened with cases that lack merit under the law.
“The Department of Justice fully supports the efforts of the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security announced today to secure our border. I will soon be announcing additional Department of Justice initiatives to restore legality to the southern border.”
As we reported earlier, a giant caravan of over 1,000 people - mostly from Guatemala, have stalled out in Mexico on their way to the U.S. border. Around 400 asylum seekers have already been deported by Mexican authorities, while the remainder are being given either 20-day travel visas while they make their way home, or 30 days to file for asylum in Mexico.
The caravan has been sitting for four days as migrants camp out at a Mexican sports arena, while organizers have more or less thrown in the towel.
Organizers admit they were taken aback by both the size of this year’s caravan—which has been a periodic ritual since 2010—and the attention it has received. They also admit their original plan of making their way to the U.S. border has likely changed. -Wall St. Journal
“We’re in limbo,” said one asylum seeker camped outside of the center - surrounded by garbage bags full of trash and rolled up mattresses.
That said, several hundred Hondurans reportedly boarded "The Beast," a train which was originally going to take the entire caravan north. Many of the remaining caravan participants stayed behind in the hopes of marching forward by foot or other means of transportation.
A few hundred of the Hondureño migrant’s Caravan boarded “The Beast” train 🚊 in central Mexico 🇲🇽. The rest of the caravan continued on their quest to USA 🇺🇸 borders by foot or other transportation methods -man in the video says! @realDonaldTrump @FoxNews #StopTheCaravan pic.twitter.com/gO08XTTpCv— Marco Gutierrez (@MarcoGutierrez) April 4, 2018
We imagine that at least a portion of the caravan will make its way to the U.S. border, at which point they will face the U.S. border patrol - backed by the National Guard. If this happens, it will make for quite the showdown - and may even inspire lawmakers to fund the wall.
Meanwhile, they're making progress on replacing segments of the border in California - with what appears to be a wall that's at least 10 feet taller.
#Calexico #BorderWall replacement project within #USBP #ElCentro Sector’s area making progress. This area is parallel to "Via Internacional" south and "The All-American Canal" north. #CBP pic.twitter.com/d8QtFTgzjX— CBP San Diego (@CBPSanDiego) April 4, 2018