Trump Administration Asks Pentagon to Extend Military Presence on Mexico Border

USA

01 December 2018, 05:17

M.News

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has asked the Pentagon to extend the U.S. military presence at the Mexico border into next year, VOA reports.

The Department of Homeland Security requested a 45-day extension of the deployment, which would stretch it until at least the end of January. The Defense Department is expected to approve the extension.

The border deployment was supposed to wrap up by Dec. 15, but Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokeswoman Katie Waldman said in a statement Friday that an “ongoing threat” at the southern border requires continued military presence.

Approximately 5,600 active-duty forces are currently supporting border agents at the U.S.-Mexico border in the states of Texas, Arizona and California.

President Donald Trump ordered the deployment of active-duty troops to the border in response to a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants who were trekking toward the United States.

Democrats criticized the move, saying it was political stunt ahead of mid-term elections in November.

The Trump administration argued that the migrants were a threat to border security and supporters felt vindicated by the administration’s decision after clashes broke out Sunday along the border fence. U.S. customs and border agents fired tear gas canisters into Mexico at a group of migrants in Tijuana who tried to rush the border fencing across from the U.S. city of San Diego, California.

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security say U.S. troops did not directly engage with the migrants at the border, but instead provided back-up to border agents.

Because military personnel are generally prohibited from engaging in law enforcement duties on American soil, the troops are providing support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. Much of their work so far has been to put up miles of barbed-wire fencing along the border and to transport border patrol agents.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters last week that some of the soldiers deployed to the border would be rotated out in the coming weeks.