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Pentagon sends over 150 service members to southern border

Pentagon sends over 150 service members to southern border
Approximately 160 military police officers, engineers and aviation support personnel are expected to be repositioned at both borders with half in El Paso, Texas, and the other half in San Diego at the San Ysidro Border Crossing. File Photo by Natalie Krebs/UPI | License Photo

March 7 (UPI) -- The Pentagon said it will send more than 150 service members to be stationed Saturday at border crossings in California and Texas.

Approximately 160 military police officers, engineers and aviation support personnel are expected to be repositioned at both borders with half in El Paso, Texas, and the other half in San Diego at the San Ysidro Border Crossing.

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They will be assigned to support Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Defense said Friday.

Service members were being sent to place "temporary barriers to restrict access through ports of entry and provide force protection for CBP personnel as they perform their federal functions," Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell said in a statement.

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A CBP statement said additional troops were requested as a "crisis response force" to also help with coronavirus screenings if needed at the borders.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott also ordered the state's National Guard to deploy troops to the Brownsville area, which is adjacent to the border with Mexico, Mitchell added.

The deployment comes after a court ruling Wednesday temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's administration's policy for asylum seekers to wait in Mexico from being enforced unless the Supreme Court intervenes before March 12.

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Under the so-called remain in Mexico policy, the Trump administration has deported 60,000 asylum seekers. If the courts overturn the policy and rule asylum seekers can remain in the United States while their cases are being heard, more asylum seekers are expected to come to California and Texas border crossings.

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