Mexico: Nielsen promised limited role for National Guard at border

President Donald Trump Wednesday ordered troops "immediately" to the border to stop illegal immigration, and Nielsen told reporters at the afternoon White House press briefing that the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security are working to make his order happen. "It's a lot of support functions that will free up the border patrol to do what they do best, which is enforce border laws", Nielsen said. "Congress must change these Obama era, and other, laws NOW!"

"This is a 24/7 cell comprised of several DoD representatives who will serve as the single conduit for information and coordination between DoD and DHS", she said.

Nielsen said her department had developed a list of locations where it would like assistance on things like aerial surveillance and other support, and was discussing with the governors how to facilitate the plans. She said the number of guardsmen called up "will be as many as needed to fill the gaps today".

On Wednesday, Trump said in a tweet: "Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong".

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat, criticized the deployment as an "offensive effort to militarize the border" and "another pitiful attempt to distract attention from the unsafe chaos the president is creating".

"The lawlessness that continues at our southern border is fundamentally incompatible with the safety, security, and sovereignty of the American people", Trump wrote in a memo authorizing the move, adding that his administration had "no choice but to act".

The announcement comes after Trump's call for military action to secure the border "until we can have a wall".

A senior White House official also said the Trump administration was crafting legislation to make it harder for refugees to gain asylum in the United States and loosen restrictions on undocumented immigrants apprehended near the border.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has told Mexican authorities that National Guard troops deployed on the border would not be armed or participate in immigration or customs duties, according to the Mexican Foreign Ministry. The president has ramped up his border-security talk in recent days, after hearing reports of an immigrant caravan that is headed toward the U.S. The caravan is a group of individuals, primarily from Honduras, that is seeking asylum in Mexico and the flee instability in their home country.

Apprehensions at the U.S. -Mexico border have begun to increase in 2018, up from 23,555 in February 2017 to 36,695 in February 2018, the latest month for which statistics are available. Obama announced in May 2010 that as many as 1,200 national guard troops would help patrol fenced areas of the border, in addition to extra customs and border agents.

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