Deploying troops to the U.S.-Mexico border will cost $220 million, and the Pentagon sees “no threat” from the migrant caravan, new reports say.
In the waning weeks of the midterm elections, President Trump dispatched the military to support border authorities in dealing with the caravan, a group of migrants who are traveling on foot, fleeing violence and oppression in Central America. Trump has been criticized for fostering anti-immigrant sentiment to drive Republican voters to the polls.
Trump’s order will ultimately cost up to $220 million, CNBC reported today, citing two senior Defense Department officials.
The caravan is more than a month away. There are about 4,000 troops at the border now, and ultimately there will be 7,000, CNBC reports. Trump has called for up to 15,000 troops to join what has been dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot. If that number is reached, there will be more troops at the border than in Iraq and Syria.
But according to documents obtained by Newsweek and the Washington Post, the military says only “a small percentage of the migrants will likely reach the border.”
Meanwhile, a risk assessment by the Defense Department “found that the caravan did not pose a threat to the United States” and that “the caravan would take about a month and a half to get to the U.S. border,” CNBC reported.
According to the Associated Press, about 4,000 migrants have reached Veracruz, Mexico, and are headed to Mexico City. Many are likely to be detained in Mexico. The rest have the right to seek political asylum in the United States at an official border crossing.
But on the campaign trail, Trump has painted a darker picture of the caravan without evidence, calling it an “invasion.” He has said there were Middle Eastern terrorists within the traveling group. There is no evidence of that. In April, he drew criticism for saying that women in the caravan “are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before” without providing a source. When asked about the president’s remark at the press briefing, White House Sarah Huckabee Sanders pointed to a source that said nothing about a record number of rapes. In fact, the report cited one woman who said the men in the caravan were protecting her, noting that it “has begun to feel a little like a family.”