The United States said on Monday it will send over 5,200 troops to help secure the border with Mexico, a far larger-than-expected deployment as President Donald Trump hardens his stance on immigration ahead of Nov. 6 mid-term elections.
The deployment will create an active-duty force comparable in size to the U.S. military contingent in Iraq, as Trump’s administration draws attention to a caravan of migrants that is trekking through Mexico toward the United States
General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command, said 800 U.S. troops were already en route to the Texas border and more were headed to the borders in California and Arizona.
“The president has made it clear that border security is national security,” O’Shaughnessy said, as he detailed a much larger deployment that the 800 to 1,000 troops predicted by U.S. officials last week.
O’Shaughnessy said some soldiers would be armed although it was unclear who, beyond U.S. military police, might need those weapons. U.S. officials have stressed that the troops would not police the border and instead carry out support roles like building tents and barricades, and flying U.S. customs personnel to locations along the border.