Hidalgo, TX — There’s a new timeline for withdrawal of troops at the border. The announcement comes as the head of the migrant caravan decides on which border port of entry it will arrive to, and as President Trump signs a new order restricting asylum claims.
During a rare tour of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities at the McAllen-Hidalgo port of entry, CBP and Army North officials briefed the media on their preparations.
Over the last couple of weeks, those preparations have included riot control drills, helicopter drop-off exercises and the installation of concertina wire by the Army along the border and around the ports.
About 5,600 soldiers deployed to the border in a support role, restricted by law to act as police or immigration enforcement. These troops now have a deadline.
“This is a temporary mission for us and we expect to be complete by 15 [of] December,” said Army North Griffin Task Force Commander Col. Richard Ball.
The military withdrawal announcement came as the first group of the migrant caravan had set their sights on the Tijuana-San Ysidro border as their next destination.
“CBP ports of entry are simply not designed to hold a large number of migrants,” noted CBP Laredo Field Operation Director David Higgerson.
The one thing that CBP isn’t prepared for are asylum claims.
The agency admitted it is strapped for space and resources and is looking for ways to expand. This means more and more people are being told to go back to cartel laden cities of Mexico to wait until they can be processed.
Asylum claims at the ports of entry have surged after the Trump administration’s push to funnel migrants through these legal crossing points.
“I just signed the proclamation on asylum,” said President Trump. “People can come in, but they have to come in through the ports of entry.”
This bar on immigrants crossing the border illegally to seek asylum isn’t clear cut. As RGV Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz explained, anyone can still make the claim regardless of how they’ve entered the U.S.
“The only change or deviation is that we make a notation on the processing paperwork and it goes before ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and then ultimately to an asylum judge to make a determination,” he said.
That change means asylum seekers must now pass a higher standard of ‘reasonable fear’ – rather than a ‘credible fear.’
The president’s asylum ban expires in 90 days.