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31 Oct, 2018 15:56

Pentagon readies 7,000 troops for border duty as Trump warns of ‘gang members’ in caravan (VIDEO)

Pentagon readies 7,000 troops for border duty as Trump warns of ‘gang members’ in caravan (VIDEO)

Continuing a stream of similar warnings, US President Donald Trump has again warned a thousands-strong ‘caravan’ of migrants, en route to the US, to “turn around,” as the Pentagon identifies 7,000 troops to send to the border.

“The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people,” the president tweeted on Wednesday. “Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable, or unwilling to stop Caravan. Should stop them before they reach our Border, but won’t!”

With a caravan of around 4,500 migrants already well into Mexico, “breaking though,” was likely a reference to a second migrant caravan forcing its way through Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala on Saturday, battering down the gates and throwing rocks at police.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump again threatened the migrants with a harsh response, and claimed that the caravans “are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members.”

While the migrants of the second caravan violently clashed with Mexican police, it is unclear how many, if any, of them are actually gang members. As the first caravan crossed his country, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales did state that his country had apprehended and deported “close to 100 people” linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group, and more than 1,000 MS-13 gang members. It is not clear, however, if these people were marching with the caravan.

Other than Morales’ claim, incidental reports of criminals among the caravan’s marchers have surfaced, and Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior Alfonso Navarrete has warned that some of the migrants who broke through the country’s border on Saturday “carried firearms and molotov cocktails.”

While the first caravan is still almost 1,000 miles from the nearest border crossing point of McAllen, Texas, the Pentagon has authorized the deployment of over 5,000 troops to the border. The first 1,000 of these troops have arrived at the frontier, and General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, Commander of US Northern Command, said on Tuesday that “there will be an additional force over and above the 5,239” currently at the border or en route.

A US official told Reuters on Wednesday that the Pentagon has identified 7,000 troops who could be deployed to the border if needed. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the figure was an initial estimate, and is subject to change.

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These troops will be stationed at likely crossing points and will assist the 15,000 Customs and Border Patrol agents and 2,000 National Guard troops already patrolling the 2,000 mile frontier.

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 be armed, but will mostly perform reconnaissance, logistics, and barrier construction tasks.

Immigration is a top priority for Republican voters ahead of next week’s midterm elections, and Trump himself has called the caravan a “great midterm issue” for Republicans, and has used the issue to bash Democrats for failing to support tougher border control legislation.

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