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  • U.S. Special Response Team officers stand guard at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Nov. 19, 2018

    U.S. Special Response Team officers stand guard at the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Nov. 19, 2018 | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 November 2018

Former generals and presidential advisers say Trump's troops at Mexico border is 'needless' and demoralizing to soldiers and the U.S. reputation abroad.

National security experts and former military officials are calling U.S. President Donald Trump’s use of around 5,900 active-duty troops at the Mexico border a “needless” political ploy and should be sent home for Thanksgiving.

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“Exactly as predicted, this deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to our southern border has turned out to be nothing more than what I would call a political stunt,” said Ned Price, director of policy and communications at National Security Action and former advisor to President Barack Obama when speaking with America’s Voice human rights organization.

Retired Maj. Gen. Peter S. Cooke called the domestic deployment “extremely unwise” and an unnecessary burden on soldiers which “does affect our national security.”

He added, “somebody needs to speak out for (the soldiers) overall welfare,” Cooke told the press on Monday. He stressed that the commander in chief’s mandate “goes against every decision-making process and matrix that we’ve been taught in the military.”

In the run-up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections, nearly 6,000 U.S. troops were sent to the southern border to supposedly “protect” the region and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents stationed along the 3,150km frontier from an estimated 10,000 Central American Exodus members who are mainly seeking asylum within the country.

Some 2,000 National Guard members have been patrolling the expanse since the most recent so-called migrant caravan last April.

The call to send troops home came, as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported it, heard “chatter” overnight Sunday that some caravan members were planning an “incursion” at the San Ysidro port of entry. 

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“Late last night we started to get information of potential waves or groups of individuals who were communicating about an incursion into our ports of entry, attempting to run by our ports of entry,” a government official said Monday. The scare prompted DHS to close San Ysidro for three hours Monday in order to further “reinforce” the border. The closure prevented thousands of Mexicans from going to work and school in their U.S. places of work and education. 

Troops have already set up medical camps and kilometers of barbed wire and barricades along several ports of entry over the past two weeks.

Price said that militarizing the border is costing the U.S. government hundreds of millions of dollars, its reputation, and is demoralizing troops. The former White House advisor said the troops should spend Thanksgiving with their families.

Politico reported over the weekend that troops would be sent home by Dec. 15, as planned.

Hundreds more from the first Exodus just left Mexicali for Tijuana where many of the asylum seekers have already faced anti-immigrant protests and discrimination. The fifth caravan, which left El Salvador days ago, has reached the border with Guatemala and Mexico.

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