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Texas and Arizona deploy troops to Mexico border

April 7, 2018

The US departments of Defense and Homeland Security began working with Arizona and Texas to fulfill President Trump's directive of reinforcing the border. The migrant caravan that prompted the move ended in Mexico City.

A soldier from the Texas Army National Guard observes a section of the Rio Grande along the Texas-Mexico border
Image: picture-alliance/Zumapress/Maj. R. Stillinger

Hundreds of US National Guard troops will begin deployment to the US-Mexico border in the next few days, in response to President Donald Trump's call for border reinforcements to combat drug trafficking and illegal migration. The US states of Texas and Arizona made the announcement on Friday.  

Read more: US to crack down on first-time border offenders

The call to bring military troops to the border followed President Trump's concerns over Easter about a "migrant caravan" that was said to be moving from Central America towards the United States.

The president's tweets on the matter caused tension with Mexico, as Trump blamed the neighboring country for encouraging illegal migration towards the US, while saying that Mexico's immigration laws were stronger than those of the US. The tweets prompted Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to denounce Trump's "threatening or disrespectful attitudes."

State cooperation needed

While Trump's troop deployment proclamation, signed on April 4, directs the use of National Guard troops, federal law still allows Guard members to remain under the command and control of their state's governor.

The Trump administration clarified that the federal government will work in conjunction with border states to carry out the president's order, with the US departments of Homeland Security and Defense in charge on the federal end.

Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey said Friday that about 150 of its National Guard members would be deployed to the border next week, while the Texas National Guard said it was also planning on sending 250 of their Guardsmen there in the next 72 hours as an "initial surge."

The office of Republican Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, said on Friday that it had not yet deployed National Guard resources and the office of Democratic Governor of California, Jerry Brown, did not comment on the matter and has not yet expressed support for the measure.

Read more: Donald Trump tweets: Mexico border 'Wall is the Wall'

Migrant caravan ends

The caravan of migrants from Central America that prompted Trump's criticism and subsequent border troop deployment was never intended to reach the United States. At its peak, some 1,500 migrants made their way north mostly from Honduras, but also El Salvador, with the help of NGOs like Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

Members of the migrant caravan stage a march in the Mexican city of Oaxaca
Members of the migrant caravan stage a march in the Mexican city of Oaxaca, to protest US President Donald Trump and Honduran President Juan Orlando HernandezImage: picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Marquez

The migrants were said to be fleeing violence and poverty and would seek asylum, but they also sought to draw attention to the plight of immigrants. The Mexican government had allowed the caravan to pass through its territory by issuing humanitarian permits valid for 20 days.

The caravan began to break up in southern Mexico on April 5 and organizers said the remaining busloads of migrants ended the caravan in Mexico City's Basilica de Guadalupe late Friday night. From there, the migrants will be on their own, though many plan to stay in Mexico, while others will try to seek asylum in the US or attempt to cross the border.

jcg/jlw (AP, AFP, EFE, Reuters)

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