Fox News reports:
The Trump administration is sending more than 500 troops to the southern border, as part of the ongoing effort there to combat the coronavirus threat by preventing more infections coming into the U.S. interior.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made the request that the Defense Department provide 540 personnel to support Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operations on the southern border. Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the request, which is currently in place until the end of September.
“At a time when Americans face a profound public health and national security threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that the men and women of law enforcement have the support they need to prevent public health threats from entering the country through our borders,” a DHS official told Fox News.
The United States already maintains an average of 5,000 troops at the southwest border to support Border Patrol by performing non-law enforcement duties. The latest deployment will bolster those ranks as border agents grapple with possible exposure to COVID-19, the disease cause by the virus.
Mexico declared a health emergency on Monday and issued stricter rules aimed at containing the fast-spreading coronavirus after its number of cases surged past 1,000 and the death toll rose sharply.
One of the U.S. officials – all of whom requested anonymity to discuss the decision – said the Trump administration worries the pandemic could further depress Mexico’s already troubled economy and encourage illegal immigration from that country to the United States.