The new Department of Homeland Security Request for Assistance for additional US troops and other logistical support on the southern border has been sent to the Pentagon but has yet to be signed by acting Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan, according to two US defense officials.
The request arrived late Wednesday and is being reviewed. There are no guarantees that all the requests will be approved, and the Department of Defense has previously rejected requests, pending DHS edits.
At the Pentagon last Friday, Shanahan told reporters he did not “have a finite number” in terms of how many additional troops would be sent but that the Pentagon was “looking at anticipating” what DHS needs prior to the receipt of a formal request for assistance.
“Where DHS loses its capacity is in the migrant family processing, when you think about their finite ability to do apprehensions they’re really kind of trapped back in the processing side of things,” Shanahan said, “so working with the joint staff, we’re finding a way to how do we do more monitoring and detection for them, do we maybe take that on as a mission.”
Over the last year thousands of American troops have been deployed to the southern border. At its peak, some 5,900 troops were part of the border mission, which has involved surveillance, aviation support and the placement of concertina wire between ports of entry.
Currently there are 3,000 active duty troops and 2,000 National Guard personnel deployed in support of border security.
Two US soldiers on the border recently found themselves in an encounter with armed Mexican troops, an incident that saw the Mexican forces remove one of the American soldiers’ sidearms.
President Donald Trump told reporters earlier this month that he is “going to have to call up more military” to the southern border to address a historic increase in the number of migrant apprehensions.
There were more apprehensions on the southern border in March than in any other month in more than a decade, according to data released by Customs and Border Protection.
Department of Homeland Security officials have said the influx of migrants has caused the agency to reach a breaking point. Earlier this month Trump announced then-Homeland Secrurity Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen would be leaving her position, and her second in command, acting deputy Claire Grady, also left the department.