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D-M, Ft. Huachuca to house troops sent to border; 101st Airborne among soldiers deployed

Regular Army forces joining National Guard on border watch

Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and Ft. Huachuca in Sierra Vista, are among the locations where U.S. military forces are being stationed near the Mexican border. Among the border deployments are the 101st Airborne Division.

The push to send active-duty troops to the border comes as President Donald Trump's rhetoric in the weeks leading up to the midterm election has included the large group of Central American migrants — the so-called "caravan" — walking across Mexico. Numbering several thousand people, including children, that group is still nearly 1,000 miles from the U.S. border.

About 5,200 additional troops will be sent to the border, joining about 2,200 National Guard troops already deployed.

Some of the troops being sent to Arizona will be housed in tents on military bases here, a government source familiar with the military's plans said.

Among the units being sent to the border are soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Ft. Campbell, Ky., the 541st Sapper Company from Ft. Knox, Ky., 16th Military Police Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 89th Military Police Brigade, Ft. Hood, Texas. Soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division, Ft. Carson, Colo., were deployed to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. It was not immediately clear where the Airborne troops would be sent, or which units would be stationed in Arizona.

The Trump administration announced "Operation Faithful Patriot" as an effort to "harden the southern border" and assist Customs and Border Protection officers.

But Trump's top border cop, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, said just last week that his agency was already "well-prepared" to deal with the exodus of parents and children from three Central American countries.

"I know that you have seen the recent reporting of large groups of migrants moving toward the United States in Southern Mexico in so-called 'caravans,'" McAleenan wrote in a memo leaked to TucsonSentinel.com. "I want you to know that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be well-prepared. We are monitoring the situation closely. The closest of the three groups remain over a thousand miles away from our border and is currently moving only a few dozen miles per day."

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The memo came just before the White House announced last week that it was pushing to send another 800 soldiers to the southwestern border, adding to the contingents of National Guard troops who were deployed in May as part of Operation Guardian Support.

Then, Friday the administration announced it would increase the number of troops deployed, with the Pentagon saying Monday that it would send 5,200 soldiers.

Already, around 2,200 soldiers were working in joint missions along the border in support roles, including repairing Border Patrol vehicles, helping with inspections at the ports of entry, including the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, and using helicopters and airplanes to direct agents on the ground.

The number of U.S. military personnel deployed on the border will be triple the 2,000 American troops fighting ISIS in Syria.

Active-duty soldiers are barred by federal statute — the post-Reconstruction-era Posse Comitatus Act — from acting as law enforcement on U.S. soil.

McAleenan said that CBP was working with other agencies to "ensure that we have effective operational plans to ensure border security in the event of the arrival" either at the nation's ports of entry, or along the border. "We will be reinforcing staffing, well in advance, to ensure that we can address any contingency, with support from interagency partners," he said in the email memo, which was leaked to TucsonSentinel.com by a federal employee.

Migrants leave 'caravan' for asylum in Mexico

Last week, Mexican officials said that around 3,600 people were traveling in the caravan and around 1,700 had begun the process to seek asylum in Mexico. A shelter estimated that the group that traveled from Hidalgo to Tapachula and stayed in a provisional shelter included around 2,622 men, and 2,234 women, along with nearly 2,400 children. 

In May, a smaller caravan traveled up through Mexico to the U.S., setting off an angry response from the Trump administration, which ultimately resulted in the first deployment this year of National Guard troops along with southwest border. Of the 1,500 people in that caravan, around 400 people actually reached the border and applied for asylum in the United States.

Central American influx

The number of migrants coming from increasingly unstable Central American countries has dramatically outpaced the number of Mexican nationals, the data showed. In 2007, around 852,000 people were apprehended by Border Patrol, and of those, around 94 percent were from Mexico. However, 10 years later, Central Americans were 56 percent of those apprehended, making it difficult for CBP to rapidly deport them back to their country of origin. 

At the same time, many of the people coming from three Central American countries are traveling as "family units"—usually a parent traveling with one or two children—which dramatically changes how long CBP officials can hold people, either at remote Border Patrol stations, or at holding facilities managed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, under U.S. law. 

This fiscal year, CBP officials, including Border Patrol agents and officials at the ports, apprehended nearly 400,000 people are of those nearly 91,000 people were traveling as families. 

In Arizona, nearly 40 percent of those caught by Border Patrol were either families, or children traveling alone, almost all from Central America. The Yuma Sector, which straddles the Colorado River and covers part of California and Arizona, showed the largest increase in the number of families who came into the U.S. Of those picked up by Border Patrol, more than three-fourths were either families or minors traveling alone, CBP data showed.

From the Texas Tribune:

The military build-up, which was first reported by Reuters Monday morning, comes as President Donald Trump moves ahead with the notion that criminals and Middle Easterners have infiltrated the caravan, which started out with more than 7,000 migrants but has reduced in size this month. He has presented no evidence to support that claim.

The American Civil Liberties Union immediately blasted the move as nothing more than a costly and unnecessary political ploy.

“Sending active military forces to our southern border is not only a huge waste of taxpayer money, but an unnecessary course of action that will further terrorize and militarize our border communities,” Shaw Drake, the policy counsel for the ACLU Border Rights Center in El Paso, said in a statement. “ Military personnel are legally prohibited from engaging in immigration enforcement, and there is no emergency or cost-benefit analysis to justify this sudden deployment.”

TucsonSentinel.com’s Paul Ingram contributed to this report.


TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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Latest comments on this storyRead all 4 »

4
22 comments
Nov 2, 2018, 8:53 am
-1 +1

What I would do with this foreign invasion?

1. Send them all back from where they came from.  All 15,000 of them.

2. Send the commander in chief a bill for misusing public funds to make them come here just because of his private agenda.

3. Demote him to The Apprentice In Chief.

M

3
28 comments
Nov 1, 2018, 4:55 pm
-2 +1

Sounds like you’re an expert on govt spending, but no details on what you would do with this foreign invasion…

2
28 comments
Nov 1, 2018, 4:52 pm
-2 +1

Funny.  We can send our troops to defend the borders of other countries around the world, ut not our own….

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Click image to enlarge

Maj. Martin Meiners/U.S. Army

Personnel prepare for departure from Ft. Campbell, Ky., Oct. 30, 2018, in support of Operation Faithful Patriot. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) is deploying soldiers and equipment to the border.

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