The U.S. military’s deployment at the Mexico border will continue for at least another eight months, the Pentagon said Monday, extending an effort that began last October as President Trump tried to raise fears of a migrant “invasion” ahead of the midterms.
In a statement Monday, the Pentagon said acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to keep active-duty troops at the border through September 30, 2019. The troops were initially scheduled to come home on December 15. The deployment was previously extended through the end of this month at the request of DHS.
There are around 2,300 troops currently at the border, down from a high of 5,900. Around 1,100 soldiers and Marines are at California’s southern border, with another 650 in Arizona and 600 in Texas.
The Pentagon said the military mission will transition in 2019, as troops move away from “hardening ports of entry” and toward more “mobile surveillance and detection, as well as concertina wire emplacement between ports of entry.”
The troops have already put up 70 miles of concertina wire around ports of entry, and now DHS wants them to top another 160 miles of existing fence with the razor-sharp wire.
The cost of this effort isn’t entirely clear. Defense officials told CNN that the deployment would cost $132 million through the end of January. The National Guard is also deployed to the border. That mission is estimated to cost $308 million by the time it ends in September.
Not long after the Pentagon agreed to keep troops at the border, Trump tweeted about a “big new Caravan” coming from Honduras, clearly attempting to once again ratchet up fears about a migrant invasion. While it’s true that a new group of migrants have begun the long walk north, they’re still more than 1,000 miles away. And as we learned last year, the migrants pose no danger, despite the dire warnings from the boy who cried caravan.