CAMP PENDLETON — Military troops, including at least 1,100 from Camp Pendleton, will remain at the U.S.-Mexico border until the end of January.
Defense Secretary James Mattis gave the final OK, Tuesday, Dec. 4, following a request last week by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who asked that the 6,000 troops currently at the border remain there in response to migrant caravan arrivals, said Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a spokesman for the Department of Defense.
Troop support has been authorized until Jan. 31, 2019, he said.
In an interview during the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley on Saturday, Mattis expressed support for the plan. He reiterated that the troops are at the border in a crowd-control capacity and not for law enforcement, which is prohibited under the U.S. Constitution.
“I’ll make certain that what we’re doing is appropriate for our troops, and if it is and Border Patrol needs the help, of course we’ll provide it,” Mattis said during a visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
More than 1,100 Marines in the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton were ordered to the U.S.-Mexico border in early November in support of troops as a caravan of Central American migrants advanced toward Tijuana.
There the Marines have assisted the Department of Homeland Security as part of Operation Faithful Patriot, said 2nd Lt. Fredrick Walker of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7. The Marines are providing engineering support at the border, including constructing temporary barriers, barricades and fencing.
Marines also have provided medical teams, command and control facilities, temporary housing for Customs and Border Protection personnel and personal protective equipment for those troops, Walker said.
As of Monday, Dec. 3, in California there were about 1,800 personnel providing support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said Major Jamie Dobson, a spokesman for U.S. Army North.
Members of the migrant caravan have remained mostly peaceful since they began to trickle into Tijuana more than 20 days ago.
A small group attempted to cross the border without permission on Nov. 25, leading to the arrest of 42 people by Customs and Border Patrol agents who used tear gas and pepper bullets to disperse the crowd. The military members stationed at the border did not engage the crowd of migrants during the exchange, Dobson said.
Border Patrol arrests 120 to 145 people on average daily in the San Diego sector, said Border Patrol agent Vincent Pirro. The department does not provide daily counts on arrests, he said.
©2018 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
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