The United States will temporarily send an additional 1,500 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to help secure it, according to the Pentagon. The deployment is in preparation for a possible increase in illegal immigration when the Title 42 border restrictions, which allow the rapid expulsion of non-Mexican migrants to Mexico without the chance to seek asylum, lift later this month.
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The active-duty troops will supplement the work of the U.S. Border Patrol and will not carry out law enforcement duties. The troops will conduct ground-based monitoring, data entry, and warehouse support to free up border agents and fill critical capability gaps.
The deployment will be in addition to an ongoing deployment of about 2,500 National Guard troops. The troops are expected to arrive by May 10 and will be deployed for 90 days.
The Pentagon is also looking at ways to replace the active-duty personnel with reserve forces. The use of U.S. military troops to secure the border has been a common practice in previous presidential administrations, including those of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, who deployed thousands of active-duty and National Guard troops.
However, immigration advocates have criticized previous efforts to send troops to the border, arguing that people seeking asylum should be met with humanitarian professionals, welcoming volunteers, medical and mental health professionals, not soldiers.
Some Democrats and immigration activists have also criticized President Joe Biden for gradually toughening his approach to border security. Biden has grappled with record numbers of illegal migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since he took office in 2021.
Meanwhile, Republicans have criticized Biden for rolling back the hardline policies of former President Donald Trump.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has responded to the troop deployment, saying that the U.S. is a sovereign nation, and that Mexico respects its decisions.
Pentagon leaders have been frustrated about military deployments to the border, privately arguing that the mundane tasks are better suited for law enforcement agencies and can affect military readiness.