WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he plans to visit the U.S.-Mexico border, where troops are helping erect barriers and performing other tasks in support of border security.
About 5,800 active duty troops are assigned to the border mission. Of those, about 1,000 are on or near the border in south Texas.
“I’ll visit the border tomorrow,” Mattis told reporters Tuesday before meeting his Qatari counterpart at the Pentagon. “We’ll update you on costs [associated with border mission] as they become known,” he added.
President Donald Trump ordered troops to the border in response to a caravan of migrants slowly making its way through Mexico toward the U.S.
In earlier comments, Mattis said the military’s mission on the border has not changed “at this time,” even though the lead migrant caravan is no longer headed toward south Texas.
The caravan is now in western Mexico, intent on taking the Pacific coast route northward to the border city of Tijuana, which was still about 1,350 miles (2,200 kilometers) away. The migrants have come about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) since they started out in Honduras around Oct. 13.