Around 4,000 U.S. military members, including active-duty troops from Camp Pendleton, are likely to remain at the U.S.-Mexico border through the end of January, it was reported Friday.
The Associated Press, citing anonymous sources, reported that the Department of Homeland Security recently made a formal request to the Department of Defense to extend the timeline of military support at the border for an additional month and a half. The DHS request, which the AP said has not yet been approved by Defense Secretary James Mattis, would reduce the military footprint from 5,600 to 4,000.
Rumors swirled last week that the federal government would begin sending troops home, with a full disengagement planned for Dec. 15. During a visit to Border Field State Park on Nov. 20, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ducked a question about that timeline, saying only that they would continue their work “until it is resolved.”Active-duty troops, including about 1,100 from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, have been stationed at the border since the beginning of November, reinforcing existing fencing with jersey barriers, concertina wire and other barricades in anticipation of migrant caravans from Central America.
Despite the proposed reduction in military presence, DHS officials are now asking federal agencies, including the State, Justice and Energy departments, to send civilian law enforcement officers to the border, according to NPR.
It is unclear how many officers DHS is requesting and whether they would serve as de-facto replacements for the roughly 1,600 troops that would be sent home under the new proposal.
Members of the migrant caravan have remained largely peaceful, especially toward American immigration authorities, since they began to trickle into Tijuana about 20 days ago.
A subsection of the group attempted to cross the border without permission last Sunday, spurring Customs and Border Patrol agents to arrest 42 people and use tear gas and pepper bullets to disperse the crowd, much to the chagrin of immigration advocates and activists. The military members stationed at the border did not engage the crowd of migrants during the testy exchange.
— City News Service
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