Washington: The US government has announced that it will deploy 5,200 troops along the border with Mexico in response to the two Central American migrant caravans that are currently crossing Guatemala and Mexico en route to Washington. At a press conference on Monday, the Commander of the US Northern Command, Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, said that 800 troops were already en route to the country’s southwest border, adding that by the end of the week the number of troops deployed there will amount to more than 5,000, reports Efe news.
“We’re going to secure the border,” said O’Shaughnessy, adding that Operation Faithful Patriot will be conducted to help Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tighten security at and near legal entry points and will include helicopter patrols to enable border protection agents to quickly intercept migrants trying to enter the US illegally. An 1878 US law prohibits the use of soldiers for national security and public order tasks. Therefore, O’Shaughnessy said, the soldiers’ activities will be limited to supporting the border patrol agents in air operations to detect illegal activities, as well as in mechanical work, such as repairing vehicles, and the troops will also provide medical care to immigrants if needed.
Among the soldiers’ tasks will be to strengthen security at the border crossing points and detect weaker spots where migrants could try to cross illegally, the General said. The troops to be deployed in the coming days will join the 2,100 National Guard troops deployed along the southern border since April as a result of another migrant caravan that at that time began a northward trek toward the US from southern Mexico.
CBP has another 2,000 agents ready to perform border security tasks, agency head Kevin McAleenan said during the press conference. About 3,500 people, according to McAleenan’s calculations, are in the first caravan of migrants, which set out from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on October 13 and which is currently moving through southern Mexico after traversing Guatemala.
Most of the members of a second caravan, comprised of 1,500 migrants, on Monday waded and swam across the Suchiate River separating Guatemala and Mexico and, in the coming days, the prediction is that yet another caravan comprising Salvadorans, who on Sunday left their country aiming to get to US territory, will arrive in Mexico.
Second group of migrants enters Mexico
Tecun Uman (Guatemala): Hundreds of Central Americans following in the footsteps of a thousands-strong migrant caravan making its way toward the US border crossed a river from Guatemala into Mexico on Monday, defying a heavy Federal Police presence deployed to patrol that country’s southern frontier. A low-flying police helicopter hovered overhead as the migrants waded in large groups through the Suchiate River’s murky waters, apparently trying to use the downdraft from its rotors to discourage them. Guatemala’s Noti7 channel reported that one man drowned and aired video of a man dragging a seemingly lifeless body from the river.