Trump orders ‘several thousand’ more troops to US-Mexico border, costing taxpayers over $600m

Chris Riotta

Donald Trump’s White House administration has ordered “several thousand” more troops to the US-Mexico border, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

Acting Defense Department Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the latest dispatch of troops to the southern border would occur “soon” following a new request from the Department of Homeland Security.

Meanwhile, reports indicate the president’s demands for an increased US military presence along the border are expected to cost American taxpayers over $600m (£458m).

Mr Trump’s “Operation Faithful Patriot,” which sent more than 5,000 military personnel to the region just before the 2018 midterm elections, has already reportedly cost taxpayers nearly $235m (£180m); $132m (£101) for active duty troops and $103m for the National Guard.

Pentagon officials have said the increased troop presence throughout the 2019 fiscal year will cost taxpayers an additional $448m (£342m).

The latest deployment could surpass 2,000 troops, officials told Reuters. They said it was unlikely the level of active duty troops along the border would return to the peak of nearly 6,000 in November of last year.

“Most recently, DHS has asked us to support them in additional concertina wire, and then expanded surveillance capability,” Mr Shanahan said during an off-camera press briefing on Tuesday.

He added, “And we’ve responded with, you know, ‘Here’s how many people it would take, and this is the timing we’d be able ― timing and mix of the people to support that.’”

The renewed military presence in the region arrives as the federal government reopens for three weeks of negotiations surrounding border security. The government was closed for 35 days — the longest shutdown in US history — due to the president’s demands for $5.7bn (£4.3bn) to be included in the next federal spending bill towards building a wall in the region.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers have begun reportedly negotiating the issue, though it remains unclear whether any discussions will lead to a bill the president might support.

Mr Trump has previously said he would declare a national emergency over the border if Democrats and Republicans were not willing to provide him the wall funding, though the declaration would likely faced an uphill legal battle and could face injunctions from a slate of federal courts.