A Pentagon spokesman revealed that the number of U.S. troops deployed at the southern border could be cut in half by the end of March.
As of early March, there were roughly 4,000 troops placed on the U.S.-Mexico border. Around 1,100 are currently assisting with work on mobile surveillance cameras, another 1,850 are assisting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in California and Arizona with concertina wire installation, and the other 1,000 are are a mix of logistical units and quick response force personnel.
However, the troops dedicated to setting up the circular barbed wire — which is being placed across 140 miles of the southwestern portion of the border — will be completed with their mission by March 31.
“If the mission gets done and then the CBP doesn’t identify new requirements they might need, then we may see a new decrease,” stated U.S. Northern Command spokesman Army Maj. Mark Lazane, according to the Washington Examiner. “Being that we’re in support of CBP, we’re always looking to CBP.”
The troop withdrawal follows announcements from several Democratic governors that they are cutting back the number of their states’ National Guard troops currently deployed at the border, citing major disagreements with President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced in February he would be withdrawing 112 National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border, following Democratic Govs. Gavin Newsom on California and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico who made smilier moves that same month. All three governors disagreed with the president’s argument that an emergency existed at the southern border.
“I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country,” Lujan Grisham, the first governor to announce troop a withdrawal, stated on Feb. 5. “New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fear-mongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops.”
The governors’ insistence that no emergency exists on the southern border is contradicted by U.S. Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost, who argued before a House committee that the increase in non-Mexican foreign nationals and unaccompanied children has stretched border enforcement resources to the breaking point.
In anticipation of a migrant caravan, the White House mobilized over 5,000 active-duty troops to the southern border in October. They were helped in large part by 2,000 National Guard soldiers already deployed in California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
Pushback from Democratic governors — and lawmakers in Washington, D.C. — has not stopped the president from prioritizing border security. Fresh off leaving an historic 35-day government shutdown over border wall funding, Trump is again asking Congress to provide billions more to complete construction on the U.S.-Mexico border.
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