Trump's October surprise: 800 US troops will be sent to the border

Democrats have said Trump is attempting to stroke fear before a blue wave is supposedly coming

By Shira Tarlo

Published October 26, 2018 12:07PM (EDT)

Central American migrants walking to the U.S. start their day departing Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018.  (Getty/AP/Salon)
Central American migrants walking to the U.S. start their day departing Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. (Getty/AP/Salon)

With less than two weeks before the midterm election this November, the Department of Homeland Security is preparing to deploy at least 800 additional troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to tackle a migrant caravan that President Donald Trump has called a "national emergency."

The troops are likely going to be active duty but where the troops will come from and their specific tasks has not yet been revealed, officials told CNN. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to sign an order mobilizing the troops soon, and the troops are expected to be in place by the end of the month. The number of troops will range from 800 to 1,000, but the exact number remains unknown.

The news of Mattis' decision follows a Thursday morning tweet from the president who vowed to stop the migrants making their way into the United States by "bringing out the military."

Later on Thursday, Trump issued a warning to the migrants on Twitter, writing, "To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally," he said. "Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!"

The troops would join the roughly 2,100 National Guard soldiers that are already spread across the border, who were sent under an order from Trump earlier this year to support Customs & Border Protection officers.

Members of Congress have been wary of the president's response to the migrant caravan. Democrats, in particular, have said Trump has made several false or misleading information in regard to the migrants, including his comments Monday that the group includes criminals and "unknown Middle Easterners" — a statement he failed to support with evidence.

"The president is not telling the truth when it comes to the people who are in the caravan," Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told CNN on Tuesday, adding that "many are in desperate situations."

"That doesn't necessarily mean they can come live in America," Cardin said, "but we certainly should not be using the language the president is with regards to the caravan." Cardin argued that the nation needs immigration reform, instead of weaponizing fear as a tactic to alarm the American public just 12 days before the midterm election, when a "blue wave" is supposedly coming to push Congress toward a Democratic majority.

Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) called on the Trump administration to seek a "safe third country" asylum agreement with Mexico to "assist in accommodating a steady stream of migrants." Such an agreement would require migrants seeking asylum to make their claim in the first country of arrival rather than passing through to another country, according to Grassley and Lee.

"Entering into a safe third country agreement with Mexico would send a message to our partners across Central America that they too must share the burden of unsanctioned mass migration," the senators said in a joint statement.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has previously asked the United Nations to step in and help his government oversee "a migrant processing center near their southern border." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that he welcomed that plan, and referred to the caravan as "the largest issue that we face today."

Shira Tarlo

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