Donald Trump suggests 15,000 troops could be sent to US-Mexico border to counter migrant caravans

 

Donald Trump has suggested up to 15,000 troops could ultimately be sent to the US-Mexico border to counter approaching caravans of migrants, a major increase on initial deployments. 

The US president denied he was “fearmongering” over the threat of illegal immigration ahead of the county’s midterm elections next Tuesday, insisting it was an important issue. 

The new figure, floated during a discussion with reporters on the White House lawn, is higher than the 14,000 troops that America has deployed in Afghanistan. 

It is the latest increase, with 800 soldiers initially sent to the border by the Pentagon – a figure that then rose to 5,200 earlier this week. The troops are legally barred from enforcing US immigration law and are instead providing support to border officials. 

"We’ll go up to anywhere between 10 and 15,000 military personnel on top of Border Patrol, Ice [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and everybody else at the border,” Mr Trump said. 

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It remains unclear whether the US president will follow through on the suggestion, given he mentioned it in passing rather than by making any formal announcement. 

The comment is the latest in a series of escalating warnings that Mr Trump has been issuing over migrants approaching the country’s southern border though Central America. 

At first there was just one so-called ‘caravan’ of people seeking to enter the US. Size estimates peaked at around 7,000 people before dropping to around 4,000 people. 

Donald Trump, the US presidentCredit:
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Now more caravans have emerged. A second, which clashed with police whiling crossing Guatemala into Mexico this week, is made up of an estimated 1,000 people. A further two caravans, smaller in size, have also formed. 

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Mr Trump has been accused of playing up concerns over immigration to help drive up turnout among his supporters, with the Republican majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives on the line at next week’s elections. 

In recent weeks the US president has called the approaching migrants an “invasion” and a “national emergency”, threatened to close the US-Mexico border and described himself as a “nationalist”. 

On Wednesday he repeated a threat to strip Central American nations of US foreign aid if they fail to help him stop the caravans.  He also suggested there were 25 to 30 million undocumented migrants in America.

“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the majority [in the House] rather than giving his opinions on birthright citizenship, something he knows nothing about!” the US president tweeted. 

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