BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – A total of about 1,300 troops are now deployed to Rio Grande Valley in South Texas between McAllen and Brownsville according to U.S. Army officials attached to the deployment. The same officials confirm Defense Secretary General James Mattis will visit with the troops in the region on Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday, units from the 19th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Knox and 97th Military Police Battalion from Fort Riley spent the day stretching several miles of razor wire along the southern side of an existing border fence near the Brownsville-Matamoros Port of Entry.
Their efforts are part of the preparations that U.S. troops are aiding U.S. Customs and Border Protection with ahead of a possible arrival of members from the migrant caravan trekking north through Mexico hoping to seek asylum in the U.S.
While a large portion of the caravan intends to try and make entry through the Southern California border troops in South Texas are still preparing.
They say there is no guarantee that some or many asylum seekers will try and make entry into the U.S. through South Texas.
Lt. Col Brad Morgan, the commander of the 19th Engineer Battalion said, “For us it’s great to be able to come and apply some of the engineering skills and capabilities that we have in support of a fellow governmental agency.”
Current orders keep the troops in place up till December 15, which means they’ll be spending Thanksgiving on the border.
Specialist Michael Geiger with the 19th Engineer Battalion added, “I signed up for this and you know that going in knowing you are going to miss holidays, anniversaries and birthdays.”
Harsh critics against the deployment of troops to the border ahead of the caravan’s arrival argue the efforts amount to nothing more than political theatre following a contentious mid term election.
Michael Seifert, a border advocacy strategist for the ACLU in Brownsville says the optics of military shoring up the border is interfering with the way of life for communities in the Rio Grande Valley.
Seifert added, ” The election cycle is over. It’s time to move on. Get those people back home, and please take your barbed wire with you.”
A total of about 5,600 troops have been deployed to border regions in Texas, Arizona and California.
President Donald Trump has said he would add up to 15,000 if needed.