Patrick Shanahan weighs military role in Mexico border shutdown
Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to discuss what role the U.S. military may have in a possible shutdown of the southern border threatened by President Trump.
As of Monday morning, Homeland Security officials had not yet sent a request for assistance to the Pentagon to deal with the recent crush of asylum-seeking migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, Mr. Shanahan told reporters ahead of a meeting with South Korean Minister of National Defense Jeong Kyeong-doo.
The Trump administration is threatening to seal off the southern border if Mexico did not take steps to increase security on its side of the line.
“Mexico must use its very strong immigration laws to stop the many thousands of people trying to get into the USA. Our detention areas are maxed out we will take no more illegals. Next step is to close the Border!” Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday.
The White House also ordered the cutoff of U.S. foreign aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras the three Central American nations where the majority of the recent flood of migrants are from.
Mr. Shanahan’s comments came as Ms. Nielsen ordered 2,000 Homeland Security agents to redeploy to support Customs and Border Protection officers stationed near the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We will urgently pursue additional reinforcements from within DHS and [other agencies]. And we will require those seeking to enter the United States to wait in Mexico until an immigration court has reviewed their claims,” Ms. Nielsen said in a statement issued Monday.
There are currently 5,000 U.S. troops stationed along the border with Mexico, with the Pentagon expected to expand that force to roughly 6,000 by March, the Defense Department confirmed in February.