President Donald Trump is deploying 5,200 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the rapidly advancing migrant invasion.
Troops are to be deployed as early as Tuesday this week, with the U.S. Air Force planning to airlift in 400 additional Border Patrol personnel as well.
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Foxnews.com reports: The troop deployment, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, had been expected after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved the request last week. But the number of troops is far higher than initial estimates.
There are three planned staging areas: in South Texas, Arizona and California, for what’s now been dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot.
President Trump, meanwhile, has called for the caravan to turn back and warned its members that the military “is waiting for you!”
He tweeted Monday: “Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”
Fox News has learned military police will be among those headed to the border, though they will not be acting in a law enforcement role – but rather in a “force protection” mission, guarding any U.S. military personnel supporting the Border Patrol, according to another official.
Combat troops are not being considered, though the bulk of the reinforcements going to the border are active-duty forces.
Because they would not be performing law enforcement duties they would not be in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the federal government from using the armed forces in a domestic police role.
There already are about 2,000 National Guard troops assisting at the border under a previous Pentagon arrangement. With thousands of additional troops headed south, there will be roughly the same number of American forces positioned along the southern border as there are deployed to Iraq and Syria combined.
While troops are being deployed, White House officials are continuing to discuss possible executive or regulatory action to prevent people in the caravan from coming across the border.
One idea under consideration is a measure that would only allow asylum claims to be made at a port of entry or border crossing. Under the idea, anyone who tried to make an asylum claim by crossing the border illegally would be deemed inadmissible – and their claim would be denied.
The caravan of Central American migrants continues its journey north from southern Mexico, but is still roughly 1,000 miles away from the southern border with the U.S.
The caravan is now estimated at about 4,000 people.
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