Pentagon to send about 800 troops to US-Mexico border

Honduran migrants taking part in a caravan heading to the US, rest next to a Mexican national flag during a stop in Pijijiapan, Chiapas state, Mexico, on October 25, 2018. (AFP / Guillermo Arias)
Updated 26 October 2018

Pentagon to send about 800 troops to US-Mexico border

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon is expected to deploy about 800 troops to the US-Mexico border, two US officials told AFP on Thursday, after President Donald Trump said the military would help tackle a “national emergency” and called on a caravan of migrants to turn around.
The active-duty troops would augment the 2,000 or so National Guardsmen already deployed to support operations on the border, and could come from multiple military bases around the US.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was expected to sign orders either Thursday or Friday for the new deployment, one official said.
The troops would include doctors and engineers and would be used mainly to provide logistical support including tents, vehicles and equipment.
The official said the troops would satisfy elements of a “wish list” for military assistance sent to the Pentagon by the Department of Homeland Security, the US agency with responsibility for the border.
Trump tweeted that “Democrat inspired” laws make it difficult to stop people at the border.
“I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!” he said.
In April, Trump said he would send thousands of National Guard troops to the southern border.
That initial authorization allowed for about 4,000 guardsmen to be sent to the frontier, but only about half that number have been deployed.
Those troops are mainly serving in a support role to help free up border patrol officers.
Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Bill Speaks said the Defense Department was currently working with the Department of Homeland Security “to determine the specifics of our support” to border authorities.
Thursday’s move comes as thousands of Central American migrants are crossing Mexico toward the United States in a slow-moving caravan.
The issue has become a rallying cry for the US president, who has taken a hard line on illegal immigration and has repeatedly kept the story in the headlines in the run up to America’s midterm congressional elections that could see the Democrats regain some degree of power.
Many of the migrants are fleeing poverty and insecurity in Honduras, where powerful street gangs rule their turf with brutal violence.
“To those in the Caravan, turnaround, we are not letting people into the United States illegally,” Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon.
“Go back to your Country and if you want, apply for citizenship like millions of others are doing!“
Trump had signaled his intention to send more troops last week, tweeting that unless Mexico stopped the “onslaught” of people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, he would “call up the US Military and CLOSE OUR SOUTHERN BORDER!“
He has also announced the US would start cutting aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel dismissed the threat as a posture adopted for the media, telling reporters that the country had received no official notice of the move.
“We have had no official information, and I rather think it has all been a show for the media,” the diplomat said Thursday, adding that the two countries maintained “excellent relations.”
Early Thursday, the caravan set off from the town of Mapastepec in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, moving on to the next stop in their long march north.
Some rode on trucks but most made the trek to the town of Pijijiapan on foot.
“Yes, we could do it!” they shouted when they reached their, exhausted, seven hours later.
“Little by little, we are going to arrive,” said Luis Alberto Adalberto, 21, one of the migrants.
But four days after crossing into Mexico, the caravan is still more than 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) from the US border.
“It’s hard, and we know this country is dangerous too, but back in Honduras it’s even more dangerous, they kill for nothing,” said Josena Anibal Mejia, 27, as he walked with his daughter.
The United Nations estimates that 7,000 people have joined the caravan since it set out from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on October 13.


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 36 min 57 sec ago

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.