COLORADO – President Donald Trump held a news conference Thursday afternoon to discuss his decision to send up to 15,000 troops to the border with Mexico in response to thousands of migrants heading north.
The large groups who crossed into Mexico last week in a violent confrontation with local police and soldiers are made up of people from Central America who say they are fleeing violence in their own countries.
While the orders from the Secretary of Defense are clear in outlining U.S. troops will stay within legal limits of their power by not enforcing the law or coming in contact with the migrants, President Trump said the troops should react to anyone hurling rocks as if they were firing rifles across the border.
Trump has emphasized no one in the groups would be allowed to claim asylum unless they did so at recognized ports of entry. He’s promised an executive order to that end. However, U.S. immigration laws say migrants seeking asylum can do so no matter how they arrive at the U.S. To handle the influx of people, the President has said he would allow the establishment of a tent city to keep everyone in one place.
Earlier this week, Trump said he’s considering an executive order to ban the right of citizenship to any child born in the U.S. to foreign parents. However, that would be an illegal move as the right is contained within the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
The Department of Defense has confirmed soldiers from Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base are heading to the border with Mexico as part of Operation Faithful Patriot.
From Fort Carson, the units heading out are with Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division and Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division will deploy. From Peterson Air Force Base members of the Joint Enabling Capability Team and Aviation Planner from U.S. Northern Command will also deploy.
The orders issued by Secretary of Defense Mattis are explicit in stating active-duty military units heading the region will not engage immigrants and will not act as law enforcement, instead, they will act in a support role for Border Patrol and local law enforcement.
On Monday afternoon, U.S. Air Force General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, who is in charge of Operation Faithful Patriot, said 5,200 active duty troops are moving to “secure Customs and Border Protection’s ability to harden the southern border.” Gen. O’Shaughnessy said, “that’s just the beginning.”
Just a couple days later, President Trump said up to 15,000 soldiers could take part in new border enforcement efforts.
Those troops will be armed as they support more than 2,000 National Guard troops already deployed to assist Border Patrol. The protection efforts will focus on Texas, Arizona and California.
The move is in response to the thousands of migrants heading to the U.S. through southern Mexico with the intention of entering the United States. There are at least 3,500 in the first group and an estimated 3,000 in a second group.
President Donald Trump referred to the groups as being part of an “invasion” and declaring the “Military is waiting for you.” He says the group which includes “Gang members and some very bad people” will not be admitted, “unless you go through the legal process.”
The Customs and Border Protection effort is Operation Secure Line which includes an additional 1,000 border agents officers on hand for surveillance, riot control and clearing people attempting to cross the border.
The Department of Defense says soldiers will “harden points of entry and secure gaps around points of entry.” For that effort, soldiers are bringing in jersey barriers that will be manned by active-duty troops to protect the integrity of the border.
Additionally, three helicopter companies are moving in place to provide surveillance, night vision capabilities, fast deployment capabilities, and medivac assistance. Large cargo planes, like C-130s, are also en route to move border agents where they are needed.
General O’Shaughnessy noted personnel on the border already have 21 miles of concertina wire on hand to assist in their efforts, with an additional 150 miles of wire on the way to the region.
Full list of units and installations involved in Operation Faithful Patriot, per release from the Department of Defense.
- Arizona: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Fort Huachuca
- California: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Naval Air Facility El Centro, Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base San Diego, Naval Base Point Loma
- Texas: Fort Bliss, Joint Base San Antonio, Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Naval Operations Support Center Harlingen, Naval Air Station Kingsville,
- Fort Bragg, North Carolina
- Headquarters & Headquarters Command, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command
- 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
- Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 16th Military Police Brigade
- 51st Medical Company, 28th Combat Support Hospital
- 172nd Preventive Medicine
- 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion
- 329th Movement Control Team
- 403rd Inland Cargo Transfer Company
- Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment, 503rd Military Police Battalion
- Fort Carson, Colorado
- Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
- Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
- Peterson Air Force, Colorado
- Joint Enabling Capability Team and Aviation Planner from U.S. Northern Command
- Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
- Joint Public Support Element – Public Affairs
- Fort Meade, Maryland
- 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera)
- Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia
- 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Headquarters, 3rd Infantry Division
- 90th Human Resources Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade
- Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas
- Defense Logistics Agency Contingency Contracting Team
- 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Assessment Team
- Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 505th Military Intelligence Brigade
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
- 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, I Corps
- 87th Engineer Sapper Company, 555th Engineer Brigade
- Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina
- 1st Combat Camera Squadron
- Fort Bliss, Texas
- 24th Press Camp Headquarters, 1st Armored Division
- Fort Hood, Texas
- 89th Military Police Brigade, III Corps
- Headquarters, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade
- 937th Engineer Sapper Company, 8th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade
- 104th Engineer Construction, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade
- 289th Quartermaster Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1stCavalry Division Sustainment Brigade
- Fort Knox, Kentucky
- Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment, 19th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade
- 15th Engineer Company (Horizontal), 19th Engineer Battalion
- 541st Engineer Sapper Company, 19th Engineer Battalion
- Fort Campbell, Kentucky
- 887th Engineer Support Company, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade
- 372nd Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade
- 74th Transportation Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade
- Fort Riley, Kansas
- Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 97th Military Police Battalion, 1stInfantry Division
- 977th Military Police Company Combat Support
- 287th Military Police Company Combat Support
- 41st Engineer Company (Clearance), 4th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade