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Exclusive: Trump weighs authorizing U.S. troops to medically screen migrants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s administration is contemplating giving U.S. troops on the border with Mexico the authority to perform medical screening of migrants, U.S. officers advised Reuters on Tuesday.

United States Marines fortify concertina wire alongside the San Ysidro Port of Entry border crossing as seen from Tijuana, Mexico November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

The proposal, which remains to be in draft kind and circulating throughout the administration, would contain the army in screenings for issues like sickness and harm provided that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) company personnel have been overwhelmed and unable to accomplish that on their very own, the officers mentioned.

The proposal would broaden the mission for the Pentagon, which mentioned beforehand it didn’t count on its forces to instantly work together with migrants.

The Pentagon declined to touch upon inner deliberations. In a press release, it mentioned the operation would value about $72 million by Dec. 15, based mostly on present plans.

U.S. army duties on the border, together with stringing up concertina wire and constructing non permanent housing, have been aimed toward supporting CBP personnel.

The U.S. officers who spoke to Reuters concerning the proposal did so on situation of anonymity as a result of Trump has not but signed off on the thought.

It was unclear if the proposal, if confirmed within the coming days, may delay the deployment of no less than some troops on the border.

The commander of the mission advised Reuters final week that the variety of troops might have peaked at round 5,800, and he would quickly have a look at whether or not to start sending forces dwelling or shifting some to new border positions.


Trump, who received the presidency in 2016 after a marketing campaign promising to crack down on unlawful immigration, has seized upon migrant caravans headed towards the U.S. border, evaluating it to an “invasion.”

Critics have derided his place as a stunt that politicizes the army.

About 6,000 Central Americans have reached the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, in accordance to native officers. More bands of migrants are making their means towards Tijuana, with round 10,000 anticipated.

In Tijuana and different ports of entry, CBP officers are educated to examine migrants and vacationers for apparent indicators of infectious circumstances, like fever, bleeding from the eyes or different signs of “quarantinable and communicable diseases,” in accordance to a 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service.

One U.S. official mentioned that beneath the most recent proposal, U.S. troops would perform medical screenings provided that different officers, similar to from state and native governments or the National Guard, weren’t out there or overwhelmed.

“The intent of the authorities is not to bring the troops in closer contact with the migrants but to provide medical assistance if needed,” the official mentioned.

On Monday, Reuters reported that Trump was possible to give U.S. troops authority to defend immigration brokers stationed alongside the U.S. border with Mexico if they arrive beneath risk from migrants searching for to cross into the United States.

Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney, Bill Berkrot and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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