Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to sign an order as early as Thursday sending 800 or more troops to the southern border to support the Border Patrol, a US official said. The troops retain the right of self-defense, but border patrol officers will still be the ones physically stopping illegal migration, the officials said. This would include a variety of things such as vehicles, tents and equipment. The U.S. military is generally barred from performing domestic law enforcement functions, though, and he sent National Guard troops to the border instead. The president and senior White House officials have long believed the issue is key to turning out his ardent base of supporters.
The United Nations estimates that 7,000 people have joined the caravan since it set out from San Pedro Sula, Honduras October 13.
"I must, in the strongest of terms, ask Mexico to stop this onslaught", Trump tweeted.
Details of Mr. Trump's plan, including a web of complicated legal issues that will most likely prompt a swift challenge in federal courts, were still being finalized on Thursday, according to the people who described it, all of whom insisted on anonymity to discuss an action that is still under development. Many said the fear of returning to a violent homeland loomed larger than the president's threats. "We only want to give our kids a better future".
"If someone migrates to the United States, it's to work, and working is not a crime", he said. "They will not be allowed to stay". That's almost double the asylum claims the USA fielded in 2015 and almost quadruple the claims in 2013.
Foreign nationals fleeing unsafe conditions have the right to apply for asylum at the U.S. border under USA law.
Three sources told CNN that the troops would not engage in lethal operations to stop the migrants, but are expected to help erect fencing and other barriers to stop the migrants. Earlier this year, Mattis authorized Pentagon funding for up to 4,000 National Guard troops on the border. It's not yet exactly clear where they will deploy.
But Trump told a rally crowd in Wisconsin on Wednesday that moves were underway.
"Wait'll you see what happens over the next couple of weeks".