Trump weighs authorising US troops to medically screen migrants

A member of the US military stands in front of the border fence that divides the US and Mexico at Friendship Park in San Diego, California.
A member of the US military stands in front of the border fence that divides the US and Mexico at Friendship Park in San Diego, California.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Donald Trump's administration is considering giving United States troops on the border with Mexico the authority to carry out medical screening of migrants, US officials told Reuters on Tuesday (Nov 20).

The proposal, which is still in draft form and is circulating within the administration, would involve the military in screenings for things like illness and injury only if US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency personnel are overwhelmed and unable to do so on their own, the officials said.

The proposal would expand the mission for the Pentagon, which said previously that it did not expect its forces to directly interact with migrants.

The Pentagon declined to comment.

US military duties on the border, including stringing up concertina wire and building temporary housing, have been aimed at supporting CBP personnel.

The US officials who spoke to Reuters about the proposal did so on condition of anonymity because Mr Trump has not yet signed off on the idea.

It was unclear if the proposal, if confirmed in the coming days, might prolong the deployment of at least some troops at the border.

 
 

The commander of the mission told Reuters last week that the number of troops may have peaked at around 5,800, and he would soon look at whether to begin sending forces home or shifting some to new border positions.