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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer. katherine molé mfa ... art director
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Mattis, Asked If Troop Deployment To Border Is a STUNT: 'We Don't Do STUNTS'
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis emphatically denied a reporter's suggestion Wednesday that the deployment of approximately 5,200 active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border is part of a political stunt ahead of next week's midterm elections.
"We don't do stunts in this department. Thank you," Mattis told a reporter who posed the question after a Pentagon meeting with Mattis' South Korean counterpart. The defense secretary added the deployment was to provide "practical support" to the Department of Homeland Security and was based on a request from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The deployment is in response to the approach of a caravan containing an estimated 4,000 Central American migrants. An additional 2,000 to 3,000 forces have been told to prepare to deploy if needed.
The White House repeatedly has warned members of the caravan that they will not be allowed into the United States. In an interview with Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle"Monday night, President Trump vowed that the migrants "are not coming in" and said the administration would build "tent cities" to house asylum-seekers.
"We're going to have tents, they're going to be very nice and they're going to wait and if they don't get asylum, they get out," the president said.
Federal law prohibits the military from acting as a domestic police force, which means the troops going to the border cannot detain immigrants, seize drugs from smugglers or have any direct involvement in stopping the caravan. Instead, their role largely will mirror that of the existing National Guard troops — about 2,000 in all — deployed to the border over the past six months, including providing helicopter support for border missions, installing concrete barriers and repairing and maintaining vehicles.
The new troops are set to include military police, combat engineers and helicopter companies equipped with advanced technology to help detect people at night.
Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.