Trump says border troops could hit 15K, surprising Pentagon

Nov 02, 2018, 01:44
Trump says border troops could hit 15K, surprising Pentagon

A migrant carrying the flags of Mexico and Honduras walks along the highway as a thousands-strong caravan of Central Americans hoping to reach the US border moves onward from Juchitan, Oaxaca state, Mexico on Thursday.

The caravan is comprised of more than 3000 Central Americans that are almost 1,000 miles from the US border with Mexico as they travel by foot.

President Donald Trump said asylum seekers must go to ports of entry in order to make a claim. The asylum clause of the Immigration and Nationality Act says that anyone who arrives to the USA may apply for asylum.

Trump has announced he is sending more than 5,000 soldiers to shore up the US-Mexico border, but they will likely be limited to support activities as they are legally barred from conducting law enforcement operations in the United States.

"The support that we provide to the Secretary for Homeland Security is practical support based on the request from the commissioner of Customs and Border Police", Mattis said during a joint press conference with South Korea's defense minister.

Trump frequently describes illegal immigrants - a tiny minority of whom have formed groups to attempt walking hundreds of miles to the United States border - as "rapists" and "thugs".

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Trump said he's also not thrilled with Mexico's response. "If he doesn't repent, he's going to hell". The group voted in favour of continuing their journey, and they managed to pass the authorities.

The president has made immigration the centerpiece of his closing argument ahead of Tuesday's midterm election.

Worn down from long miles of walking and frustrated by the slow progress, many migrants have been dropping out and returning home or applying for protected status in Mexico.

"As far as the caravan is concerned, our military is out", Trump said before boarding Marine One en route to Fort Meyers, Fla.

General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, head of the U.S. military's Northern Command, said troops will focus on trying to "harden" border crossings and surrounding areas, with work done by combat engineering battalions with experience building temporary fencing.

Just 24 hours later, Trump thrust new uncertainty into the picture, catching the Pentagon by surprise.

As part of that effort, the president has amplified concerns about the migrant caravan, which largely consists of individuals from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

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Trump has rejected the idea he has been "fearmongering" and using the issue for political purposes, but his escalating rhetoric in the final days of the campaign season calls that denial into question.

"We are not releasing anymore", he said.

Currently, over 5,200 soldiers are heading to Texas, Arizona, and California to secure the border before two migrant caravans, currently comprising roughly 6,500 people, reach the US.

And there was also pressure on the first caravan, which set out before dawn Thursday from Juchitan, Oaxaca, seeking to reach the town of Matias Romero, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) ahead.

Trump said he was not anti-immigrant but wanted immigration to be completely brought under control.

Trump has tweeted that the caravan is a "National Emergency" but has made no formal declaration as required under the 1976 National Emergencies Act, which governors executive powers.

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On Wednesday evening it became clear that Mexican authorities were not acceding to the caravan's demand that dozens of buses be provided to whisk the 4,000 or so people to Mexico City.

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