Published: Fri, November 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

US sending up to 5,200 troops to border with Mexico

US sending up to 5,200 troops to border with Mexico

"But please know that is in addition to the 2,092 that are already employed from our national guard troops".

On Monday, Mexico's Federal Police aggressively tried to turn back hundreds more migrants who crossed the Suchiate River to enter Mexico from Guatemala.

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There is a legal obligation under global law to hear asylum claims from migrants who have arrived in the United States if they say they fear violence in their home countries. "At the same time, we must take appropriate steps, as [former] Presidents Obama and Bush did, to carry out the essential duties of a national government". However, some lawmakers dismissed the new deployment as a political stunt by the White House just a week before the November 6 midterm elections.

Air Force General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, head of the USA military's Northern Command, told reporters the 5,200 troops would focus on trying to "harden" border crossings and surrounding areas, with work done by combat engineering battalions with experience building temporary fencing.

Troops planned to bring heavy concertina wiring to unspool across open spaces between ports.

With 5,200 troops on their way to the nation's southwest border, the Pentagon said Tuesday that number is expected to swell. Advanced helicopters will allow border protection agents to swoop down on migrants trying to cross illegally, said Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy. Some of the troops will be armed.

Meanwhile, the Mexican government has been doing its best to get as numerous Central American migrants to stay in Mexico and apply for asylum there.

There are already 2,100 National Guard members at the border, sent after a previous request by Mr Trump in April.

The announcement during a Fox News interview came as the Pentagon announced it was deploying 5,200 active-duty troops to beef up security, and follows weeks of heated anti-migrant rhetoric from the president ahead of crucial midterm congressional elections next week.

On Sunday, one migrant died after he was hit with a rubber bullet when Mexican federal police rebuffed another group of migrants who tried to enter the country over the global bridge. One of the riders died from a head injury although it is unclear how he sustained it.

The generosity shown by small towns and residents when the migrants first began trekking through southern Mexico has also lessened. That group appeared to begin as a collection of about 160 who made a decision to band together in Honduras for protection against the gangs who prey on migrants traveling alone and snowballed as the group moved north. Under worldwide law, these are considered refugees.

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The President warned the USA military is waiting at the border and will put up tents and barricades to detain asylum seekers.

O'Shaughnessy said the mission of what's being called Operation Faithful Patriot is to harden the border in preparation for the caravan of asylum-seeking migrant families making its way north through Mexico.

The president offered no evidence of "gang members" and "very bad people" in the caravan.

"We just want to a way to get to our final goal, which is the border", he said. "But if that's not possible, well, permission here in Mexico to work or stay here".

If an asylum seeker enters the U.S. illegally, they are still entitled to a hearing of their claim.

The military operation drew quick criticism.

Drake added: "Sending active military forces to our southern border is not only a huge waste of taxpayer money, but an unnecessary course of action that will further terrorize and militarize our border communities". Unless Congress specifically authorizes it, military personnel can't have direct contact with civilians, including immigrants, said Scott R. Anderson of The Brookings Institution. The troops will include military police, combat engineers and others helping on the border.

The announcement comes just days after President Trump declared the migrant caravan making its way to the US a "National Emergency".

"We've seen violence coming out of the caravan", O'Shaughnessy said. "It's going to be the election of common sense", Trump said at a rally in IL on Saturday night.

Trump tweeted Monday about the caravan of several thousand Central American migrants moving through Mexico, saying no one will be admitted "unless you go through the legal process".

Mr Trump has described migrant groups moving through Latin America and aiming to get into the United States as an "invasion", and the military deployment is far larger than was expected a week ago.

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