The Pentagon could send more troops to the US-Mexico border, a US official said on Monday, as President Donald Trump warned a caravan of Central American migrants that the military was waiting.
Such a large deployment would represent a sharp increase from initial estimates last week, when US officials said about 800 active-duty troops would be sent to provide assistance — mainly in the form of logistical support — to border guards working along the frontier.
But on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that 5,000 troops would be deployed to the southern border.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US official backed the 5,000 figure — but cautioned that planning is still underway and said no final decisions have been made on numbers.
The Pentagon in a statement said, “It remains premature to speculate total numbers or specific forces to be selected to accomplish the requested missions.”
The Department of Homeland Security, the vast US agency in charge of border security, was scheduled to hold a news conference at 4:00 pm (2000 GMT).
Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly said more troops are needed to tighten security at the border, and he has made political capital of the caravan ahead of important mid-term congressional elections that could see the Democrats regain a degree of power.
Last week he expressed frustration that the story, which had been attracting growing cable news headlines, had been pushed off front pages as multiple top figures in the Democratic party were targeted by a series of mail bombs.