WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and immigration (all times local):10:30 p.m.
President Donald Trump says he’s planning “tent cities” to house asylum-seeking Central American migrants who are traveling in caravans toward the U.S.
Trump says in an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham that if any of the migrants, who are still hundreds of miles away, do make it to the border and apply for asylum, as they’re legally entitled, the U.S. plans to “hold them until such time as their trial takes place.”
Trump says: “We’re going to build tent cities. We’re going to put tents up all over the place … and they’re going to wait.”
Under current protocol, migrants who clear an initial screening are often released until their cases are decided in immigration court, which can take several years.
The Defense Department says it’s sending 5,200 active duty troops to “harden” the southern border against a migrant caravan making its way through Mexico.
Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy tells reporters that 800 soldiers were en route on Monday and that the remainder of the troops would be at the southwest border by the end of the week.
That’s in addition to the more than 2,000 members of the National Guard already helping at the border now. Officials say the troops will provide “mission enhancing capabilities” and will be armed.
The announcement comes as President Donald Trump has been trying to focus on the caravan just a week before the midterm elections.
The migrant caravan has been moving slowly north from Central America and its numbers have been dwindling.
Three U.S. officials say the number of military troops deployed to the southern border in support of the Customs and Border Patrol could be in the thousands.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a troop plan that was not yet completed and had not yet been approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
The Wall Street Journal reported the planned deployment was likely to be much higher than officials had disclosed late last week when preliminary figures of 800 to 1,000 were cited. The Journal reported that the Pentagon plans to deploy 5,000 troops, mainly military police and engineers.
The troops are expected to perform a wide variety of functions such as transporting supplies for the Border Patrol, but not engage directly with migrants seeking to cross the border from Mexico, officials said.