800 US troops due at Mexico border to tackle migrant caravan

WASHINGTON • The Pentagon is expected to deploy about 800 troops to the US-Mexico border, two US officials told Agence France-Presse on Thursday, after President Donald Trump said the military would help tackle a "national emergency" and called on a caravan of US-bound migrants to turn around.

The active-duty troops would augment the 2,000 or so National Guardsmen already deployed to support operations at the border.

The troops would include doctors and engineers and would be used mainly to provide logistical support including tents, vehicles and equipment.

One official said the troops would satisfy elements of a "wish list" for military assistance sent to the Pentagon by the Department of Homeland Security, the US agency with responsibility for the border.

Mr Trump tweeted that "Democrat-inspired" laws make it difficult to stop people at the border. "I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!" he said.

The move comes as thousands of Central American migrants are crossing Mexico towards the United States, many of them fleeing poverty and insecurity in Honduras. The issue has become a rallying cry for the US President, who has taken a hard line on illegal immigration, in the run-up to America's midterm congressional elections.

Social media posts about the caravan have been particularly rife with misinformation. Network analysis firm Graphika studied 14,000 Twitter accounts that frequently posted about the caravan and found a high level of false and misleading information and images.


Honduran migrants in Chiapas, Mexico, on Thursday. Thousands of Central Americans are crossing Mexico towards the United States, many of them fleeing poverty and insecurity in Honduras. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The caravan was portrayed by some prominent conservative figures as a violent horde mobilised for invasion, including through the sharing of falsely labelled images showing a bloodied Mexican policeman that was taken in 2012.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that "Democrat-inspired" laws make it difficult to stop people at the border. "I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!" he said.

The New York Times reported on Thursday night that Mr Trump is considering issuing an executive order to block Central American migrants from crossing the border.

It would invoke the same section of immigration law that Mr Trump cited to back his Muslim travel ban, the Times said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2018, with the headline '800 US troops due at Mexico border to tackle migrant caravan'. Print Edition | Subscribe