Invading Migrants at Southern Border Will Not See Armed Soldiers on Guard
…what they will see is a major show of force keeping them from easy entry.
The thousands of invading Central American migrants and asylum-seekers converged on the southern border of the United States at Tijuana, what they will not find there are armed American soldiers standing guard.
What they will see is cranes installing towering panels of metal bars and troops wrapping concertina wire around barriers while military helicopters fly overhead, carrying border patrol agents to and from locations along the US-Mexico border.
That is because US military troops are prohibited from carrying out law enforcement duties.
And the bulk of the troops are in Texas, hundreds of miles away from the caravan that started arriving this week in Tijuana on Mexico’s border with California after walking and hitching rides for the past month
The barriers and barbed wire are an imposing show of force.
Border patrol agent wearing camouflage and armed with an assault rifles walked in the sand below where the men worked installing the new barricades. A border patrol boat patrolled offshore.
Friday, people walking through one of the world’s busiest border crossings into Mexico passed by a pair of Marines on a 20-foot lift installing razor wire above a turnstile.
The US military has deployed 5,800 active-duty troops to the US-Mexico border.
Another 2,100 National Guard troops are have also been deployed since April as part of a separate mission. Like the military troops, they are not allowed to detain illegal crossers. Instead, they have been monitoring cameras and helping to erect barriers.
All US military branches, except the Coast Guard, are barred from performing law enforcement duties.
That means there will be no visible show of armed troops, the mission is to provide support to Customs and Border Protection.
Marines and US Army soldiers share the same duties in California and Arizona. These include erecting tents, setting up showers and arranging meals for troops working on the border, and assigning military police to protect them.
There are no tents or camps being set up to house migrants. Medics are on hand to treat troops and border patrol agents not migrants for cuts, bruises and any other problems.
Combat engineers whose duties on the battlefield include setting up tactical obstacles to prevent the enemy from moving freely are using their expertise to string wire on border walls and erect temporary fencing at the border.
Construction engineers have been assigned to weld together barriers and move shipping containers to act as walls.
In Laredo, Texas, about 100 soldiers have been installing three layers of razor wire along the Rio Grande, working on the banks during the day and on the bridges at night to minimize the disruption to cross-border traffic.
The current mission is scheduled to end on 15 December.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis defended the deployment during a visit to the Texas border earlier this week, asserting that in some ways it provides good training for war.