WASHINGTON – The US Department of Defense announced on Sunday they will send an additional 3,750 soldiers to the border with Mexico for three months, during which time they will build some 240 meters of fence and provide logistical support to the US Border Patrol agents.
With this new deployment, the total number of soldiers on the border with Mexico will rise to 4,350, a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.
According to the spokesman, the military will have two main missions: to operate surveillance cameras in the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas until Sept. 30, as well as raise 240 additional kilometers of concertina fences, a type of fence that may include barbed or razor wire.
For now, the soldiers will be deployed for three months, but the Pentagon “will continue to evaluate the composition of the force required to meet the mission of protecting and securing the southern border,” the spokesman said.
A US law from 1878 prohibits the use of soldiers for national security and public order tasks.
Therefore, according to US authorities, the military cannot detain immigrants who cross the border illegally and its work is limited to assisting border agents in air operations and surveillance, as well as in mechanical work, such as repairing vehicles.
The deployment of the new troops was approved on Jan. 11 by acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, although the number of troops was not known until now.
The Pentagon approved the deployment of soldiers to the border with Mexico in late October, just before the November legislative elections, in which US President Donald Trump campaigned with the harshness of his immigration policies to win votes for the Republicans.
However, in the elections the Democrats regained the House of Representatives, while the Republicans increased their lead in the Senate, where they already had the majority.
Trump justifies his decision to send troops to the border because of what he himself has called an “invasion,” that is, groups of migrants from Central America who have begun traveling in “caravans” to cross more safely into Mexico and heading towards the United States.