‘This is an invasion, our military is waiting for you,’ Trump warns ‘migrant caravan’
“Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border,” Trump tweeted on Monday, before addressing the migrants directly: “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!”
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’s tweet comes one day after Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that the military has already begun moving equipment, including concrete barriers, to positions along the US’ 2,000 mile border with Mexico.
Some 5,200 soldiers will be deployed to the border by the end of the week, officials from the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Department of Defense confirmed at a joint press conference on Monday. This will “harden” the border, reinforcing the 2,000-strong National Guard contingent already deployed to provide support to the CBP.
The troops will provide logistics support to the border guards as well as construct additional fences and anti-vehicle barriers, securing key points of the border, Air Force General Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy said. All the troops deployed are equipped with their “normally assigned weapons,” he added.
Trump has promised to take harsh action against the approaching caravan several times over the last few weeks. The President first threatened to cut off foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador if they failed to stop migrants leaving for the US. Trump then warned the migrants to turn around in a similar tweet last Thursday, again asking them to apply for citizenship legally “like millions of others are doing.”
The caravan’s journey began in poverty-stricken Honduras almost three weeks ago. On its journey north, the caravan swelled in numbers to around 7,000. Many of the migrants have split off from the main group, and some have turned back, leaving around 4,000 still trudging towards the US.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto offered some of these migrants a chance at immigrating to Mexico on Friday, an offer that was rejected by the bulk of the group. “Our goal is not to remain in Mexico,” one Honduran migrant told AP. “Our goal is to make it to the US. We want passage, that’s all.”
Upon reaching the border, the migrants will most likely not be met with heavily armed US troops. The Posse Comitatus Act, a federal law dating back to the 1870s, forbids the military from engaging in law enforcement on US soil, unless authorized by Congress. The troops will therefore likely provide reconnaissance, logistics, and assistance to Customs and Border Patrol agents.
In the runup to next week’s midterm elections, Trump has fought to keep the caravan’s progress in the spotlight. The president has used that spotlight to bash Democrats for failing to support his tough immigration proposals, and has called the caravan a “great midterm issue for Republicans.”
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