The Department of Defense is sending hundreds of American soldiers to reinforce the southern border, a U.S. official confirmed Thursday.
In comments to Fox News, the official explained the troops would be supplying "logistical support." The United States already has Department of Homeland Security and National Guard personnel monitoring the border.
The United States already has some 2,100 National Guardsmen along the border. National Guard troops deployed to the border are unarmed. They cannot engage the migrants or take on a law enforcement function. The Department of Defense authorized adding up to 4,000 troops along the border back in April.
In a tweet Thursday morning, President Donald Trump declared he would be "bringing out the military. He called the caravan a "National Emergency."
Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council is right when he says on @foxandfriends that the Democrat inspired laws make it tough for us to stop people at the Border. MUST BE CHANDED, but I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2018
Though there are 19,000 Customs and Border Protection Agents available for deployment, the added unarmed National Guard fulfill important functions. Spokesman Major Joshua G. Amstutz told Military Times that the guardsmen fill supporting roles to free the CBPA to counter illicit crossings. The National Guard functions include "aerial detection, maintaining and repairing vehicles, and providing logistical support so that the Border Patrol is able to get badges back on the border to enforce the law," he said. It is unclear what the rules of engagement will be for the recently announced soldiers.
Also unknown are the specific units to be sent south, or how soon they’ll be sent. Secretary of Defense James Mattis will need to sign the deployment orders, at which point more information should become available.
The caravan consists of an estimated 7,000, though estimates range from 3,500 to 10,000. The majority are Honduran migrants seeking to make the journey thousands of miles through Mexico to the United States.
In comments delivered from the podium at the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that "the migrant caravan is violating Mexico’s sovereignty." Trump has threatened to cut off foreign aid to Mexico if it fails to address the issue before it reaches America’s border.
"President Trump will not stand for this to happen to the United States," Pompeo said.