By Aldgra Fredly
The U.S. Defense Department said Thursday that it will extend the deployment of up to 400 active-duty American troops at the U.S. southern border with Mexico until at least the end of September.
The Pentagon had pulled 1,100 troops from the border last month but extended the deployment of the remaining 400 soldiers.
“On Aug. 24, 2023, the secretary of defense approved an extension of up to 400 personnel providing support to Customs and Border Protection on the southwest border through Sept. 30, 2023,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Devin Robinson told NBC News on Sept. 1.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin approved in May the deployment of 1,500 active-duty troops to the southern border for 90 days to assist border officials with a possible influx of illegal immigration at the border.
The Pentagon said the troops will “fill critical capability gaps, such as ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry, and warehouse support” but will not directly participate in law enforcement activities.
The troops were intended to help back up border officials dealing with the end of Title 42, which allowed U.S. authorities to quickly expel tens of thousands of migrants from the country in the name of protecting Americans from COVID-19.
Spike in Illegal Border Crossings
Data released by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Aug. 18 showed that the U.S. Border Patrol recorded 132,652 encounters between ports of entry along the southwest border in July, up from 99,545 in June.
According to CBP data, the U.S. Border Patrol encountered an average of 2,016 single adults per day in July alone, marking a 66 percent decrease from the 6,164 they encountered per day in the first 11 days of May.
“CBP’s message for anyone who is thinking of entering the United States without authorization or illegally along the southwest border is simple: don’t do it. When noncitizens cross the border unlawfully, they put their lives in peril,” it stated.
CBP One App
The latest numbers also reflect a sharp increase in use of the CBP One mobile app through which up to 1,450 migrants can get appointments at land crossings with Mexico to seek asylum. CBP processed more than 44,700 individuals with CBP One appointments at ports of entry in July.
CBP One is for people of any nationality in central and northern Mexico entering the United States by land and seeking asylum or humanitarian parole.
Migrants must book an appointment through the app and show up to the appointment at U.S. ports of entry. If they don’t have an appointment, they would be turned away.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) said on July 26 at the House Judiciary Committee hearing that the influx of people at the border has not decreased, noting that the CBP One app “allows migrants to bypass the southern border and enter directly in the United States’ ports of entry.”
“Instead of bringing them to the southern border, you’re bringing them directly to ports of entry,” Mr. McClintock said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration on May 23 to challenge a rule that encourages illegal immigrants to use CBP One app to seek entry into the United States.
Mr. Paxton said the app encourages illegal immigration to the United States because it “cannot verify that an illegal immigrant would qualify for an exception, which would prevent them from being deported.”
“The Biden Administration deliberately conceived of this phone app with the goal of illegally pre-approving more foreign aliens to enter the country and go where they please once they arrive,” he said in a press release.
Mimi Nguyen Ly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.