WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said he would travel to the border with Mexico on Wednesday following the deployment of thousands of troops to bolster President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.
“I’ll visit the border tomorrow,” Mattis said before the start of a meeting with his Qatari counterpart.
It will be Mattis’ first visit to the border since the military announced that over 7,000 U.S. troops would go to or near the border with Mexico as a caravan of Central American migrants slowly heads to the United States.
Mattis said he would provide the cost of operation “as they become known.”
In a statement, the Pentagon said Mattis would travel to Texas to “meet with service members currently deployed in support of the Southwest border mission.”
Hundreds of Central American migrants resumed their march north through Mexico on Saturday, en route to the U.S. border where Trump has effectively suspended the granting of asylum to migrants who cross illegally.
Trump’s Friday order means that migrants will have to present themselves at U.S. ports of entry to qualify for asylum and follow other rules unveiled on Thursday that seek to limit asylum claims.
Some of the migrants were set to arrive at the border city of Tijuana, while others later in the week to Reynosa and other border towns, according to migrant shelters.
Asked whether there was any change in mission since some of the migrants are set to arrive near Tijuana, Mattis said there had been no changes but did not rule out future alterations.
“We meet daily on this issue and coordinate amongst us. The first thing that’s briefed is what is the threat against the border,” he said.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas)