Washington, DC – The Pentagon has authorized the deployment of up to 5,000 troops to the United States’ border with Mexico to prevent the massive migrant caravan from illegally entering the country.
The caravan, which has amassed approximately 7,000 people, has been slowly trekking northbound through Mexico with the intent of entering the U.S. despite repeated warnings from government officials.
On Monday, President Donald Trump referred to the caravan as an impending invasion, and assured the migrants that they would be met by military personnel.
“Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan headed to our Southern Border,” President Trump said in a Twitter post. “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,” the President said.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis approved the Department of Homeland Security’s request to deploy additional troops to the border on Friday, and officials originally expected the Pentagon to deploy approximately 800 troops, The Wall Street Journal reported.
On Monday, the U.S. government announced that 5,000 troops will be sent primarily to ports of entry as part of Operation Faithful Patriot, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Most of the troops are engineers and military police.
The military force, which will equal approximately one-third of the number of customs and border patrol agents already working on the border, will later help support border agents by providing command center staff, providing medical support, and erecting tents.
An estimated 1,700 troops will be sent to Arizona, 1,800 troops will head to Texas, and another 1,500 troops will go to California.
Some have already deployed, and are expected to remain in the area until mid-December.
President Trump has already bolstered southern border security with 2,100 National Guard troops over the past year, NPR reported.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump tweeted a message directed to the members of the caravan, and told them to go back home.
“To those in the Caravan, turnaround,” he wrote. “We are not letting people into the Unites States illegally. Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!”
Many have likened the caravan of future illegal immigrants to an invading mob, as the members of the group have been photographed waving anti-American propaganda and their own country’s flags.
The Associated Press published pictures of Central American protesters burning an American flag in front of the U.S. embassy in Honduras on Oct. 19.
The picture featured a burning American flag with a swastika painted on it by the protesters who allegedly want to come live in the United States.
Another Associated Press photo showed migrants carrying a giant Honduras flag banner over their heads as the humongous caravan continued north toward the United States border.
President Donald Trump had sent out several tweets on Oct. 22 that reiterated his threat to send the military to stop the invasion and shut the southern border of the United States.
“Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergency. Must change laws!” the President tweeted.
He pointed the blame for the onslaught of illegal refugees firmly at the feet of Democrats.
“Every time you see a Caravan, or people illegally coming, or attempting to come, into our Country illegally, think of and blame the Democrats for not giving us the votes to change our pathetic Immigration Laws! Remember the Midterms! So unfair to those who come in legally,” President Trump tweeted.
And he reiterated his vow to cut off aid to the countries who were doing nothing to intervene and help stop their citizens from rushing the U.S. border.
“Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S. We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them,” the President promised in another tweet.
The concerns about Middle Easterners slipping through the country’s southern border with the caravan of Central American migrants has been largely dismissed by mainstream media and Democratic lawmakers.
In fact, Associated Press reporters who have been traveling with the caravan said they have not met anyone who wasn’t from Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador.
However, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales told a gathering of foreign affairs officials from the United States and Latin America on Oct. 11 that "close to 100 people completely linked to terrorist issues, with ISIS and that not only have we arrested them within our territory, but they have been deported to their countries of origin,” Prensa Libre reported.
On Oct. 19, thousands of members of the caravan rushed the Guatemala-Mexico border and tore down the fence that separated the two nations.
"We are going to the United States!" Edwin Santos shouted as he raced past the officers with his family. "Nobody is going to stop us!"
When the illegal immigrants arrived on Mexico’s side of a border bridge, they were met by riot squads of federal police officers, KABC reported.
Police released pepper spray after about 50 migrants managed to push past them, and the others retreated as a federal officer pleaded with the crowd to “stop the aggression” over a loudspeaker.
But that did little to stop the flow of the caravan from Guatemala into Mexico, as literally thousands of migrants jumped off the bridge, or crossed the Suchiate River on rafts, to enter through the notoriously porous southern border into Mexico.
The Associated Press reported that the caravan had reformed north of the Mexican border where they resumed their organized march toward the U.S. border.
Some have estimated the caravan could grow to as large as 15,000 in size before it arrives at the United States, but media reports on Thursday held the number at 7,000, KNSD reported.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has vowed to stop the massive migrant caravan from crossing the U.S. border with Mexico, and said she would not tolerate any acts of violence against U.S. Border Patrol agents.
However, she added that Border Patrol agents wouldn't return fire if people in the caravan shot at them.
“This caravan cannot come to the United States,” Nielsen told FOX News on Thursday. “They will not be allowed in. They will not be allowed to stay."
Nielsen said the agency does “not have any intention right now to shoot at people,” but said anyone trying to cross the border illegally “will be apprehended.”
When asked if agents would return fire if they're shot at, Nielsen responded "no," according to The Hill.
“I want to make clear we will absolutely not tolerate violence against Border Patrol in this situation," she added. "I will not tolerate Mexicans or anybody else acting in a violent way towards our men and women on the border."
President Trump previously expressed concern about intelligence information he has received regarding the presence of MS-13 gang members and criminals within the hoard of migrants.
“Terrorists have highlighted, for many years, the loopholes in our border security,” Nielsen told FOX News. “We do know…there are criminals as part of this flow. We do know there are gang members as part of this flow.”
According to international authorities, some members of the group have kidnapped children during the mass movement northward, Nielsen said.
“So, it’s not all people seeking asylum,” she noted.
Nielsen explained that some members of the migrant group might mistakenly believe that reuniting with family members or looking for work in the U.S. constitutes “asylum.”
Nielsen said that migrants who are actually fleeing from violence have been offered the opportunity for asylum by the Mexican government, so continuing on to the United States is not warranted.
"They should be seeking refuge in Mexico," she said. "To ignore, basically, refuge and continue, in some cases, to come to the United States raises questions of what their real motives are."
According to agreements between many bordering countries, asylum-seekers should take refuge in the country nearest their own.
“[There’s] a misunderstanding that if you’re being persecuted, you can live wherever you want, and that’s not what that means,” Nielsen said. “There’s some real asylum cases which we want to help, but others are abusing the system.”
“Given this caravan, given this government’s commitment, if they come here illegally with no legitimate reason to stay, they absolutely will be apprehended and removed immediately,” she said.