Trump Calls for Up to 15000 Troops at Border as Election Nears

Trump Calls for Up to 15000 Troops at Border as Election Nears
Trump threatens to send up to 15,000 troops at Mexico border over migrant caravan
As a caravan of some 4,000 Central American migrants rests in Juchitan, a town 700 kilometres southeast of Mexico City and still many weeks' walk from the U.S. border, its members face an uneasy crossroads.

There was no onward journey today, while the group received medical treatment and food from locals hastily gathered to hand out biscuits and sandwiches — a humanitarian effort that has been replicated from town to town as the caravan crawls north.

This latest group hit the road even as President Donald Trump promised to send thousands of troops – possibly as many as up to 7,000 by some estimates – to secure the southern border and increased pressure on Mexico to halt the flow of people.

But as they recover from the road fatigue and prepare for the steep, mountainous climb that now lies ahead, concerns have begun to fester over a flurry of increasingly hard line rhetoric stoking fears about the caravan as it draws closer to the United States.

Video: Nobodys coming in: Trump prepares to send troops to border to stop migrant caravan

Trump says the US may send more troops to the US-Mexico border than the US currently has deployed to Afghanistan

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted that the caravan, composed of many families and young children, fought "viciously" against Mexican soldiers and was "made up of some very bad thugs and gang members."

Trump later stated he may send as many as 15,000 soldiers to the U.S. border with Mexico, up from the more than 7,000 troops the Pentagon said were currently being sent to support Customs and Border Protection agents.

"They're hearing it and they're starting to think about what happens if they don't get across the U.S. border," said The National's Susan Ormiston, who is in Juchitan with the migrant caravan as it winds its way north.

"They don't want to go back. But they are hearing that the messaging from the United States is getting more and more harsh," she said.

On their way: Some 2,000 migrants departed El Salvadors capital of San Salvador Wednesday en route to the US by way of Mexico 

Wednesday evening, Mexican authorities said a woman travelling with the largest caravan had given birth to the first known caravan baby. 

Salvadoran migrants rest, including children,sleep on the grass in the Salvador del Mundo Square before going on the road 

The commission says it arranged medical attention for the Guatemalan woman. Her husband was present for the birth and the newborn is reported to be healthy.

Video: 5200 U.S. troops heading to border ahead of caravan arrival

Another smaller group of migrants are about two days behind those resting in Juchitan and will soon add about 1,000 new members to their number.

Salvadoran migrants are riding a truck on their way north to the United States in San Salvador on October 31

Behind them, a third group of migrants from El Salvador had already made it to Guatemala, and on Wednesday a fourth group of about 700 Salvadorans set out from the capital, San Salvador, with plans to walk to the U.S. border, 2,400 kilometres away.

But thousands of other migrants have already dropped out of the main caravan, applying for refugee status in Mexico or taking the Mexican government up on free bus rides back home. The group is likely to dwindle even more during the arduous journey ahead. 

With hundreds of kilometres of steep, uphill terrain still separating them from their immediate target — Mexico City — the group may need humanitarian agencies and political activists to help organize transportation in order to continue their trek.

Red Cross personnel on Wednesday bandaged the swollen feet of Honduran farmer Omar Lopez, who had been pounding the hot asphalt every day for the past two weeks and spending nights on concrete sidewalks with just a thin sheet of plastic for cover.

While many critics have called the deployments, which are already underway, political stunts ahead of the mid-term elections, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters Wednesday that “we dont do stunts.”

"We are waiting to see if they are going to help us out with buses to continue the trip," said Lopez, 27.

The force of mostly engineers and military police will be deployed to Texas, Arizona, and California to harden points of entry through the building of barriers and other relevant activities.

Many people in the caravan are also economic migrants who left home for a better future in the United States. But given the group is mainly made up of economic migrants, they may not qualify for asylum status to legally enter the U.S.

Should this happen, the US will have more troops serving at the southern border than there are in Iraq and Syria, possibly even Afghanistan, where roughly 14,000 US troops are deployed.

Even so, many in the caravan remain hopeful they will make it and have been monitoring their actions to dispel any false rumours they are violent or threatening.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the US may deploy anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 troops to the US-Mexico border in response to the approaching migrant caravans.

"They know that any sense of violence in this group is bad for their cause, bad for their image, so they self-regulate," said Ormiston. "That's how it's operating here."

Despite the heightened rhetoric, the number of immigrants apprehended at the U.S. border is dramatically lower than past years.

Border Patrol agents this year made only a quarter of the arrests they made in 2000 at the height of illegal immigration, when the agency had half of the staffing it does today. Migrants' demographics have also drastically changed, from mostly Mexican men travelling alone to Central American families with children.

Should the caravan make it to the border, it will face a sizeable U.S. military presence — more than double the 2,000 who are in Syria fighting ISIS — whose mission will be largely a support role.

That's because the military is bound by the Posse Comitatus Act, a 19th-century federal law that restricts participation in law enforcement activities. Unless Congress specifically authorizes it, military personnel can't have direct contact with civilians, including immigrants, said Scott Anderson of the Brookings Institution.

It remains unclear why the Trump administration has chosen to send active-duty troops given that they will be limited to performing the support functions the Guard already is doing.

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President Donald Trump says the number of military troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexican border could go as high as 15,000.

Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that well go up to anywhere between 10 and 15,000 military personnel on top of Border Patrol, ICE and everybody else at the border.

He says the move would be aimed at preventing the entry of a caravan of migrants traveling from Central America. The caravan is still nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from the border.

Trump says that the U.S. was going to be prepared and that the migrants are not coming into our country.

Currently there are 2,100 National Guard helping at the border. The Pentagon says an additional 5,200 active-duty troops could join them.