The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it is moving approximately 250 active duty US military personnel to Texas in response to the expected arrival of a new migrant caravan.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has authorized “the repositioning of approximately 250 active duty military personnel from current border security support missions in Arizona to the vicinity of the Eagle Pass” in response to the approaching caravan, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Bill Speaks said in a statement.
The movement of troops is in response to a request from the Department of Homeland Security, Speaks added, also noting that these are not new troops but are coming from “existing authorities and in accordance with previously-approved requests for support.”
Speaks later clarified that only some of the 250 troops, including military police and medical personnel, would be re-deployed from Arizona.
The remainder, to include military engineers tasked with putting up concertina wire, will be deployed from Kansas and Georgia.
NBC News was first to report the movement of troops.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Tuesday that 2,000 migrants have arrived in northern Mexico as part of a “caravan” and want to cross into Texas.
About 1,300 of the migrants in the caravan are from Honduras, 200 are from Guatemala and 400-500 are from El Salvador, Guatemalan Consul Tekandi Paniagua in Del Rio, Texas said on Monday, ahead of their expected arrival in the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras.
The city is on the Rio Grande river, across from Eagle Pass, Texas.
Paniagua said “everything is under control.” When asked about the intentions of the migrants to request asylum, Paniagua said their first priority is to get them settled in “humane conditions.”
In her statement Tuesday, Nielsen did not claim that criminals are in the caravan, as she and other administration officials have in the past. However, she did call the caravan “lawless,” offering no explanation, and said “Illegal entry will not be tolerated and we stand ready to prevent it.”
During his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Donald Trump called attention to the latest caravan of migrants making its way toward the US and accused Mexican cities without evidence of busing undocumented immigrants to the US’s southern border.
Trump called attention to the caravans and touted his deployment of additional troops to the southern border.
Still, the President urged Congress to pass legislation to confront what he called “an urgent national crisis.”
“Now is the time for Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business,” Trump said.
However, the US intelligence community made little mention of migrant caravans in its World Wide Threat Assessment released last week and Trump’s senior most intelligence officials did not mention caravans a single time while testifying about the report before Congress.
This article has been updated with further information from the Pentagon.