News-US General-Troop Numbers at Mexican Border to Rise Further
The top U.S. general overseeing a deployment of more than 5,200 troops to the border with Mexico said on Tuesday that troop levels would rise further but declined to say how high or estimate what the operation will cost.
Many basic questions remain unanswered a day after the Pentagon announced an open-ended deployment of over 5,200 active-duty troops to the border, including the cost and scope of the mission as well as the Pentagon’s assessment of any threat posed by arriving migrants.
U.S. President Donald Trump has hardened his stance on immigration ahead of Nov. 6 congressional elections. He has drawn attention to a caravan of migrants that is trekking through Mexico toward the United States as he seeks to fire up support for his Republican party.
Republican lawmakers and other Trump supporters have applauded the deployment. But critics say Trump is politicizing the military, deploying them as a stunt to drive Republican voters to the polls without any real national security threat.
General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command, defended the operation at a briefing Tuesday. He echoed Trump administration concerns about the caravan and compared the border support mission to other domestic military missions, like hurricane relief.
“I firmly believe that border security is national security,” O’Shaughnessy said.
The U.S. military still had no firm idea of what the operation would cost, he added. Pentagon officials have said the Defense Department will need to find a way to pay for the operation, suggesting money may need to be taken from other national security programs.
O’Shaughnessy said just over 1,000 troops had already deployed to Texas as of Tuesday, where they will carry out tasks like building barriers, erecting tents, and flying government personnel by helicopter to and from different locations along the border.