The U.S. will send more than 5,200 active-duty troops to the Mexican border this week to assist Border Patrol agents, the Department of Defense announced Monday.
“By the end of this week will we deploy over 5,200 soldiers to the southwest border. That is just the start of this operation; we’ll continue to adjust the numbers and inform you of those,” said General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.
About 800 troops are already on their way to Texas as part of the operation, O’Shaughnessy said, and at least some of the deployed troops will be armed. The Department of Homeland Security requested the help of the troops, and Defense Secretary James Mattis signed off on it Friday.
The news comes as President Trump has raised the alarm about a caravan of Central American immigrants trekking north through Mexico with hopes of making it across the U.S. border, away from the violence in their home countries. Trump has called the caravan, which has grown to over 7,000 migrants, an “invasion” and an “assault on our country.”
Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2018
Trump has touted his administration’s hard-line immigration policies at every opportunity as of late, in hopes of rallying his core supporters to the polls in next month’s midterm elections.