U.S. Army engineers are building barbed-wire fencing and a facility to house U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel and other officials along the U.S.–Mexico border in Texas, to deal with the caravan of several thousand migrants from Central America that are headed toward the United States.
The Associated Press and Getty Images published photos and video footage of Army personnel setting up walls and installing the barbed wire over the weekend. The encampment is located at the U.S. port of entry in Donna, Texas, about 20 miles from McAllen.
On Nov. 4, a representative for the Pentagon said that the Department of Defense hasn’t received a request to build facilities to house migrants, AP reported.
The group of migrants, currently in Mexico, is intent on reaching and entering the United States.
President Donald Trump last week ordered troops to the border, saying that as many as 15,000 troops could be sent as part of Operation Faithful Patriot.
“I saw that beautiful barbed wire going up,” Trump said during a campaign rally in Montana, of the Army engineers’ construction over the weekend. “Beautiful sight.”
“The Democrats want to invite caravan after caravan to flood your communities, depleting our resources and flooding our nation,” Trump said to the Montana crowd Nov. 3.
‘Bad Hombres’ in Caravan
Regarding the stream of migrant, Trump told the crowd there are “bad hombres in that group,” making reference to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report that says 270 people from 20 countries who are traveling with the caravan have a variety of criminal histories, including rape and robbery.
“So they came out with a list of 300 really bad ones, really bad ones. They’re in there,” Trump noted.
“We continue to be concerned about individuals along the caravan route. In fact, over 270 individuals along the caravan route are gang members or have criminal histories, including known gang membership,” the DHS statement said. “Those include a number of violent criminals—examples include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, sexual assault on a child, and assault on a female.”
Citing the Mexican ambassador to the United States, the DHS said some caravan members are “very violent” and “some of the people in the caravan have been very violent against authority, even though they have offered the possibility of entering in compliance with immigration law and refugee status.”
Mexico’s Interior Minister Navarrete Prida on Oct. 30, meanwhile, told a local radio station that criminal groups have infiltrated the caravan.
“I have videos from Guatemala that show men dressed in identical clothing, sporting the same haircuts, handing out money to women to persuade them to move to the front of the caravan. … We know, for a fact, that some members of the caravan threatened [Mexican] Migration Institute personnel and we have images showing many of them preparing Molotov cocktails,” Prida said, according to the DHS.
Last week, speaking to reporters, Trump issued a warning to migrants in the caravan not to throw rocks at border authorities.
“We will consider that a firearm,” Trump said on Nov. 1, Fox News reported. “We will consider that the maximum we can consider that, because they’re throwing rocks viciously and violently. … We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. I told them to consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks, like they did at the Mexico military and police, I said, consider it a rifle.”
Some news outlets misconstrued Trump’s statement, publishing headlines that Trump ordered soldiers to shoot migrants who throw rocks. “I didn’t say shoot. But they do that with us [throw rocks]—they’re going to be arrested for a long time,” Trump told reporters on Nov. 2.
The caravan poses a serious threat to the sovereignty of the nation’s borders, the president said, suggesting that more groups will form and will head to the border.
“If these caravans are allowed into our country, only bigger and more emboldened caravans will follow … and you see that’s what’s happening now,” Trump said.