“I don’t consider them a military enemy, nor does the United States military doing this job,” U.S. Army Capt. Guster Cunningham III on Thursday. The spokesman for the Defense Department’s Special Purpose Marine Ground- Air Taskforce 7, which is providing support to the Border Patrol along the southern border of the U.S. said, according to Reuters that the military will have no contact with groups of migrants who are headed from Central America through Mexico with the intention of entering the country. The migrants continue to arrive along the border, while two more migrant caravans are assembling in Mexico to make the final trek north.

There are currently about 5,800 U.S. troops along the border with Mexico. Next week, some may be sent home or reassigned to different positions along the border. The troops are stringing razor wire along sections of the border and also building temporary housing for themselves and personnel from the U.S. Customs and Border (CBP) agency. 

This week, at least 1,300 of the migrants arrived in Tijuana - the Mexican border town near San Diego, California, according to Mexican media. Some were seen this week straddling the fence between the two countries, shouting at U.S. border security personnel. President Donald Trump said this week that he considers the migrant caravan an “invasion” that may be harboring extremists and criminals.

 


On Friday, Mexico City’s urban rail system provided free transportation early in the morning to Central American migrants who had been given shelter at soccer stadium in the country’s capital. Upon arrival at the Cuatro Caminos station, they were to take buses to Queretaro -- the next largest city northwest of Mexico City. This second migrant caravan consists of approximately 1,200 Central Americans, who are seeking to meet other migrants who have reached Guadalajara, which is another step closer to the U.S. Migrants are being offered free bus service in order to reach the border.

A third migrant caravan of 1,500 persons, consisting mostly of Salvadorans, is currently at the Magdalena Mixhuca shelter in Mexico City. Reportedly, they want to consult with personnel at Canada’s embassy in Mexico City to discuss applying for asylum.

Besides the reinforcement afforded by U.S. troops backing the Border Patrol, Friendship Park --  a half-acre binational park in the San Diego-Tijuana region -- will be closed on Saturday and Sunday as a precaution, according to CBP, in view of the arrival of the migrants. It is at the park that families, which have members on both sides of the border, have traditionally been able to meet. 

Defense Secretary James Mattis, a former Marine general, said on Wednesday that the troop deployment along the border is good "training" for the military. He said "It's obviously a moral and ethical mission to support our border patrolmen." Affording some historical context, Mattis recalled that President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, deployed U.S. troops along the nation's border in response to cross-border raiders by revolutionaries such as Pancho Villa.
 

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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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