The Pentagon is expected to deploy about 800 troops to the US-Mexico border, two US officials told AFP on Thursday, after President Donald Trump said the military would help tackle a "national emergency" and called on a caravan of US-bound migrants to turn around.
To counter the Honduran migrant caravan now headed for the USA, the official said the administration is also "examining plans" to temporarily close ports of entry at the Southern border. "I am bringing out the military for this National Emergency. They will be stopped!" he said.
The caravan is still more than 1,000 miles south of the border, and it is unclear when or whether the migrants will arrive, or how many will seek to cross into the United States. At rallies and on Twitter, Trump has tried to portray Democrats as pro-illegal immigration, even claiming, with no evidence, that Democrats organized the caravan. It would invoke the same section of immigration law that Trump cited to back up his Muslim travel ban, the Times said.
He vowed that he would not allow them into the country.
"We are pursuing all options", said the senior administration official.
Trump, who made fear about immigrants a major theme of his 2016 election campaign, has been eager to make it a top issue heading into the November 6 midterm elections, which will determine control of Congress. However, the reported executive action could suspend that right and prevent migrants from seeking asylum for the sake of national security, according to The Washington Post.
The reports offered few details.
The plan appeared meant as much to generate headlines to appeal to his anti-immigrant base and fuel outrage among Democrats and immigrant advocates - including legal challenges that administration officials are fully anticipating - as it was to have a practical effect on immigration.
President Trump doubled down on his assertion that there are Middle Easterners and possible terrorists among the migrants in the caravan.
The additional troops are to provide what one official described as logistical support to the Border Patrol, including a variety of things such as vehicles, tents and equipment.
"Except that I rarely use a cellphone, & when I do it's government authorized".
The sprawling caravan of migrants -once estimated by the United Nations to be more than 7,000 strong - is hoping to make it to the United State.