By Jon Dougherty
POTUS Donald Trump on Sunday tweeted that he was seriously considering sending additional U.S. troops to the southwest border to assist federal agents in providing more security as they handle a continued influx of illegal aliens.
Meanwhile, some cities along the border with Mexico are pleading for additional assistance after the U.S. Border Patrol shifted personnel to other areas of need, leading migrants to change their entry points.
The Washington Examiner noted:
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters Friday the Pentagon stands ready to dispatch more troops to the border region if President Trump follows through with his pledge to increase the military presence along the U.S.-Mexico boundary.
Trump said after touring a section of recently upgraded border fencing in Calexico, Calif., last week, “We’re going to bring up some more military” to deal with what he said were more than 70,000 illegal migrants rushing the border.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’ll provide more support to the border,” he said in response to a reporter’s question as he prepared to meet with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. “Our support is very elastic, and given the deterioration there at the border, you would expect that we would provide more support.”
Shanahan further noted that he anticipates military support will be similar to what it has already provided with several thousand troops: Barrier construction, transport, and surveillance.
He said he planned to meet over the weekend with Pentagon officials to map out the best course of action moving forward, should the commander-in-chief give the order.
“It will follow up with where are we on barrier construction, where do we stand on troops deployed, and then in the areas we anticipate, what type of preliminary plans should we be doing prior to receiving a request for assistance,” he said.
The decision to move more troops to the border could be influenced by pleas from some cities near the U.S.-Mexico boundary that are also experiencing an influx of illegal immigrants, including Las Cruces, N.M.
The Washington Times reported:
Border Patrol agents dropped off asylum-seeking migrants in New Mexico’s second most populous city for the second day in a row Saturday, prompting Las Cruces city officials to appeal for donations of food and personal hygiene items and a state medical program to seek volunteers to provide health assessments of migrants.
The migrants were being temporarily housed at a homeless shelter in Las Cruces, a city recreation center and a campus of social service agencies, city officials said in a statement.
The statement said 83 migrants arrived Saturday, following about 95 who were dropped off by the Border Patrol on Friday at the Gospel Rescue Mission homeless shelter and the Community of Hope campus.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reported Las Cruces churches for months have been providing temporary shelter to migrants released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention but that Friday was the first time that the Border Patrol vans dropped off migrants at the homeless shelter.
On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox Business Network‘s Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures” that he supports POTUS Trump’s plan to dispatch more troops to the border, but added that in the long run, what needs to happen is that Congress must address — and close — the legal loopholes migrants and their benefactors are using to gain access to the country.
“If I were the president, I would send military troops to the border as soon as I could in large numbers. But we’re never going to stop this by just having walls and troops at the border. We have to change our laws so these people stop coming,” he said.
Graham added that he’s prepared a package of reform measures he hopes will draw bipartisan support.
“We have a quirk in our law that if you’re from Central America, you cannot be sent back home as a minor child because of a law on the books that prohibits sending children back from noncontiguous countries,” he said.
“So the only place we can send a child back to is Mexico and Canada. We need to be sending these kids back to Central America, where they come from.”
Is a deal in the offing? Maybe, according to both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Pelosi, speaking to reporters at a Democratic retreat in Leesburg, Va., said she was “pleased to see” news reports that McConnell “is ready to talk about” an immigration deal. McConnell, last week, told reporters it is “past time” to negotiate with Democrats on immigration and he is willing to talk to Pelosi about it “now.”
But a deal would have to amenable to POTUS Trump. As he heads into his 2020 reelection campaign he has yet to win approval for the construction of major new portions of the wall, but his base isn’t blaming him — they’re blaming Democrats.
Perhaps Pelosi is finally feeling some heat from her own party on the issue, given that other Democrats — including President Obama’s own DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson — see the same border crisis that Trump does.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10