The U.S. Defense Department announced on 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The Pentagon had previously withdrawn 1,100 troops from the border, but the remaining 400 soldiers will continue their deployment.
“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 the deployment of 1,500 active-duty troops to the southern border for 90 days in May. Their mission was to assist border officials with a potential surge in illegal immigration.
The Pentagon stated that these troops would not directly engage in law enforcement activities but would fill critical capability gaps such as ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry, and warehouse support.
The deployment of these troops was intended to support border officials as they dealt with the end of Title 42, a measure that allowed for the quick expulsion of thousands of migrants from the country due to COVID-19 concerns.
Spike in Illegal Border Crossings
Data released by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Aug. 18 revealed a significant increase in encounters between Border Patrol and individuals attempting to cross the southwest border. In July, there were 132,652 encounters, compared to 99,545 in June.
According to CBP data, the number of single adults encountered per day in July decreased by 66 percent compared to 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. This app allows up to 1,450 migrants to schedule appointments at land crossings with Mexico to seek asylum. In July, CBP processed over 44,700 individuals with CBP One appointments at ports of entry.
The CBP One app is available to people of any nationality in central and northern Mexico who are entering the United States by land and seeking asylum or humanitarian parole.
Migrants must book an appointment through the app and present themselves at U.S. ports of entry. Without an appointment, they will be turned away.
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 26, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) highlighted the CBP One app, stating that it allows migrants to bypass the southern border and enter directly through 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, challenging a rule that encourages illegal immigrants to use the CBP One app to seek entry into the United States.
Mr. Paxton argued that the app promotes illegal immigration because it cannot verify whether an illegal immigrant qualifies for an exception that would prevent deportation.
“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.
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