The 3,500 National Guard troops deployed by President Trump to help with the crush of migrants at the Mexican border will remain at least through the summer and could be staying beyond that, Pentagon officials said this week.
Democrats had sharply criticized the mission when it was first announced, but do not appear to favor a quick reversal with the election of President Biden. Mr. Biden has already rescinded Mr. Trump‘s 2018 emergency declaration that cleared the way for the deployment and halted work on Mr. Trump‘s border wall.
The Guard deployment is funded for this fiscal year, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency would like the Department of Defense to continue supporting their mission at least through September, Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, the head of U.S. Northern Command, told reporters during a briefing Tuesday at the Pentagon.
“There is a request on the street to ask for additional support. Ultimately, [Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin] will make a risk assessment supporting and continuing the mission on the border,” Gen. VanHerck said.
The National Guard is the only military force currently working on the border. Gen. VanHerck said their mission is threefold: ground support, aviation support and detection and monitoring.
“We man sites and we provide information when we see migrants or others crossing the border to [Customs and Borders Protection] so they can conduct their law enforcement mission,” Gen. VanHerck said.
The National Guard troops, who come from 22 states, also provide aviation support to the border mission through the deployment of 24 Lakota UH-72 helicopters that provide additional detection and monitoring abilities for the law enforcement agencies. They also perform vehicle maintenance so the Border Patrol agents can focus on their law enforcement missions, Gen. VanHerck said.
“Our mission is providing support to the lead federal agency — in this case, Homeland Security,” he said.
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