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320 more troops to be sent to U.S. southern border

By Darryl Coote
320 more troops to be sent to U.S. southern border
The Pentagon said that while the U.S. 320 additional troops will interact with migrants they won't be performing any law enforcement functions. Photo by Justin Hamel/UPI | License Photo

April 29 (UPI) -- Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan approved Monday to send an additional 320 military troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to provide humanitarian support, the Department of Defense said.

"DoD personnel will assist in driving high-capacity [Customs and Border Protection] vehicles to transport migrants; providing administrative support, including providing heating, meal distribution and monitoring the welfare of individuals in CBP custody and attorney support to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said in a statement.

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Davis said the deployment of roughly 320 personnel will last until Sept. 30 at an estimated cost of $7.4 million.

The are presently some 3,000 active-duty troops and 2,000 national Guardsmen deployed to the border.

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The Trump administration has long requested additional assistance to combat what it describes as a humanitarian crisis occurring at American's southern border. In February, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in order to secure funds denied him in a spending bill by Congressional Democrats to build physical barriers along the wall.

Then in March, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote Congress an "urgent request" for the authority to deport unaccompanied minors and for more resources to deal with the increasing volume of migrants that was creating "a system-wide meltdown."

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Monday's approval, however, goes against a 2006 policy that prohibits military personnel from interacting with migrants.

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The Trump administration first broke precedent by waiving the policy earlier to allow the military to provide migrants with medical care, the Washington Post reported.

In his Monday statement, Davis said military, lawyers, cooks and drivers would be dealing with migrants entering the country and the additional personnel would not perform law enforcement functions.

"In any situation that requires DoD personnel to be in proximity to migrants, [Department of Homeland Security] personnel will be present to conduct all custodial and law enforcement functions, and provide force protection of military personnel," Davis said.

Meanwhile, Trump took to Twitter Monday night and called Mexico "one of the more dangerous countries in the world" and that the "march" of migrants into the United States "must stop."

"If the Democrats don't give us the votes to change our weak, ineffective and dangerous immigration laws, we must fight hard for these votes in the 2020 Election!" he said.

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