Pentagon: 5000 Troops Will Be Deployed To U.S.-Mexico Border

An agent with the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit guards the U.S. side of the border wall with Mexico in Brownsville Texas U.S

The deployment would represent a sharp increase from initial estimates last week, when United States officials said about 800 active-duty troops would be sent to provide assistance.

McAleenan said the aim of the operation was to deter migrants from crossing illegally, but he conceded his officers were overwhelmed by a surge of asylum seekers at border crossings.

Trump, who campaigned against illegal immigration to win the 2016 US presidential vote, has seized on this caravan in the run-up to the congressional elections, firing up support for his Republican Party, which is seeking to maintain control of Congress. "We are going to hold them, we are going to build tent cities, we are going to build tents all over the place", he said, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

President Donald Trump put it more bluntly when he tweeted Monday, "This is an invasion of our country and our military is waiting for you".

He said the 5,200 soldiers will be in addition to the almost 2,100 National Guardsmen already along the border.

But critics say Trump is overstating the caravan's impact in order to influence the upcoming mid-term elections.

The announcement during a Fox News interview came as the Pentagon announced it was deploying 5,200 active-duty troops to beef up security, and follows weeks of heated anti-migrant rhetoric from the president ahead of crucial midterm congressional elections next week.

A Pentagon spokesperson told the WSJ that any reporting on troop deployment figures is "premature", as planning is still underway, but some United States troops are reportedly already on their way to the border, where they are expected to serve until mid-December.

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"If you're already seeking asylum, you've been given a generous offer", he said of Mexico.

The caravan, once 7,000-strong, has dwindled to about 3,500 men, women, and, children largely escaping poverty and violence in Central America.

A new group of Central American migrants are met by Mexican Federal Police after the migrants waded in mass across the Suchiate River, that connects Guatemala and Mexico, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala.

Victor Argueta, 54, of Santa Barbara, Honduras, said he and his wife had spent two nights sleeping on the global bridge between Tecun Uman, Guatemala, and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, before eventually crossing the river on a raft. One migrant died from a head wound during the clash, but the cause was unclear.

But news reports quote unnamed USA officials as saying the White House is weighing a range of administrative and legal actions on grounds of national security to restrict the ability of migrants to seek asylum. We will, if necessary, to increase the number of military. Unless Congress specifically authorizes it, military personnel can't have direct contact with civilians, including immigrants, said Scott R. Anderson of The Brookings Institution.

"Please go back", he urged them, "you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process".

Mexico's interior minister said Sunday that temporary identity numbers had been issued to more than 300 migrants, which would allow them to stay and work in Mexico.

On Sunday, Defence Secretary James Mattis told reporters that construction materials, including barriers, were being moved to the border as part of the deployment. USA officials have told Reuters the support mission would be coordinated by the US military's Northern Command.