Troops arrive in El Paso ahead of ‘Remain in Mexico’ ruling

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Department of Defense Crisis Response Force will back up CBP in case 'large crowds' form at Paso del Norte port of entry

This picture shows the Paso del Norte International Bridge temporarily shut down after a group of asylum seekers part of the Migrant Protection Protocols program, better known as the Remain in Mexico Policy gathered on the Mexican side of the bridge on February 28, 2020, in Ciudad Juárez. – Migrant Protection Protocols, better known as the Remain in Mexico Policy was blocked by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, seeming to halt a policy which drastically reduced the amount of border crossings. However, the court later granted the Trump Administration a stay on the program, for fear of creating an influx on the southern border. (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The military’s Crisis Response Force has arrived in El Paso.

The activeduty troops from Fort Polk, La., who will be providing temporary military police, engineering and aviation support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Paso del Norte port of entry, arrived this past weekend, a CBP spokesman told Border Report.

The troops, however, were not on-site at the border crossing last Sunday when activists held International Women’s Day protests on the Mexican side, the spokesman said.

A similar 80-person contingent should also be at or near the San Ysidro, Calif. port of entry, as the federal government prepares for the aftermath of the 9th Circuit Court’s decision effectively doing away with the “Remain in Mexico” policy in Arizona and California later this week. The Trump administration is asking the U.S. Supreme Court for emergency relief to delay the 9th Circuit Court’s order.

Confusion over the initial Circuit Court ruling that did away with the Migrant Protection Protocols program nationwide led to crowds of asylum seekers gathering at Southwest ports of entry on Feb. 28. U.S. authorities responded by either closing or partially suspending operations at some of those border crossings.

“(The ports) are not designed or equipped to handle extremely large groups of travelers arriving all at the same time and temporary closure of a port of entry is contemplated as an extreme option, as necessary, for public safety and border security,” a senior CBP official said.

The official said the Crisis Response Force has been activated based on continued concerns over large groups forming south of the ports of entry and possibly attempting to forcibly enter the country. There are also concerns over preventing anyone with the coronavirus coming in undetected.

The official said the agency relies on its own resources first to keep control of the ports of entry, but that the use of the troops is “one element of CBP’s larger, comprehensive border secuirty efforts” to guarantee the safety of travelers, employees and even the migrants themselves.

The CRF is different from the National Guard contingent that was scheduled to conduct annual training in Brownsville, the official said.

Solider train at the Army’s Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, Louisiana. (photo courtesy Department of Defense)

“In the event that large groups form in anticipation of or following the outcome of the Supreme Court decision regarding MPP, employment of the CRF will assist CBP in being properly prepared to maintain orderly flow, public safety, officer safety and minimize damage to federal property,” the official said.

Last week, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christian Mitchell told Army Times the soldiers will “emplace temporary barriers to restrict access through ports of entry and provide force protection for CBP personnel as they perform their federal functions.”

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