President Trump to Deploy Troops to the Southern Border Ahead of Migrant Caravan

The Pentagon is preparing to deploy at least 800 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to confront a migrant caravan that President Donald Trump has called a “national emergency,” according to administration officials.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis may sign an order to mobilize these troops as early as Thursday, according to two administration officials that spoke to USA Today on the condition of anonymity. The number of troops could range anywhere from 800 to 1,000 troops.

Mattis’ decision follows the president’s Thursday morning tweet where he said he would bring the migrant caravan to a halt by "bringing out the military.”

"I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency,” Trump tweeted of the migrant caravan, hinting at the possibility of deployment. “They will be stopped!”

According to BBC News, Trump first threatened such action last week, saying he would use the military to close down the U.S.-Mexico border, and also threatened to cut financial aid to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

These troops would add to the roughly 2,100 National Guard soldiers that are already spread out across the border from an order from Trump earlier this year.

It remains unclear if these newly deployed troops would be National Guard or active military forces, but The Washington Post reported an official saying some active Army personnel would be deployed.

These troops, however, will likely not engage with the migrant caravan, but rather provide support to Customs and Border Protection by monitoring video of the border and performing other tasks so Border Patrol agents are free to complete their jobs, USA Today reports.

Members of Congress, however, have been skeptical of Trump’s reaction to the migrant caravan, which is making its way through southern Mexico to the U.S.

When asked about deploying troops to the border, Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin told CNN this week that the president “should be looking for ways of providing the needs for these individuals before they hit our borders.”

“There should be a way that they can present (asylum) claims and know that they'll be presented fairly when they reach the border,” Cardin said.

Other members of Congress, such as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, and Republican Sen. Mike Lee, want the Trump Administration to reach a “safe third country” asylum agreement with Mexico. This “safe third country” agreement would require asylum-seeking migrants to make their asylum claim in their first country of arrival rather than passing through that country to another.

“Entering into a safe third country agreement with Mexico would send a message to our partners across Central America that they too must share the burden of unsanctioned mass migration,” Grassley and Lee said in a joint statement.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has already asked the United Nations to help the Mexican government process the thousands of migrants who are trying to claim asylum, USA Today reports.