The Latest: Trump doubles possible number of border troops

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration issues (all times local):

9:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the number of military troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexican border could reach 15,000 — roughly double the number the Pentagon said it currently plans for a mission whose dimensions are shifting daily.

The Pentagon says “more than 7,000” troops are being sent to the Southwest border to support the Customs and Border Protection agents. Officials say that number could reach a maximum of about 8,000 under present plans.

The troop numbers have been changing at a dizzying pace, with Trump drawing a hard line on immigration in the lead-up to the midterm elections.

Trump’s new troop estimate caught the Pentagon by surprise. Later, he told ABC News, “We have to have a wall of people.”

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5:25 p.m.

Troops from 10 states are set to be dispatched to the border in response to a caravan of Central American migrants that is largely composed of families with children and is weeks from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border.

According to the Defense Department, the troops will come from North and South Carolina, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Georgia, Texas, Washington, Kentucky and Kansas.

They’ll be stationed at an Air Force base and Army installation in Arizona, at several Marine facilities in the San Diego area, and in five locations in Texas, including naval and Army bases.

The document says the Defense Department has identified 7,000 troops who will be participating in the mission at the border. About 2,000 National Guard members are already dispatched at the southern border.

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4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the number of military troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexican border could go as high as 15,000.

Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that “we’ll go up to anywhere between 10 and 15,000 military personnel on top of Border Patrol, ICE and everybody else at the border.”

He says the move would be aimed at preventing the entry of a caravan of migrants traveling from Central America. The caravan is still nearly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from the border.

Trump says that the U.S. was “going to be prepared” and that the migrants are “not coming into our country.”

Currently there are 2,100 National Guard helping at the border. The Pentagon says an additional 5,200 active-duty troops could join them.

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2:20 p.m.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is pushing back on suggestions that the move to send thousands of active-duty troops to the Southwest border is a political stunt ahead of the midterm elections next week.

Mattis told reporters Wednesday at the Pentagon that the deployment of more than 5,200 troops is based on a request from the Department of Homeland Security. He says, “We don’t do stunts in this department.”

An estimated 4,000 Central American migrants in a caravan have been walking across Mexico toward the U.S. border. Mattis authorized the deployment of the active-duty troops, and 2,000 to 3,000 additional forces have been told to prepare to deploy if needed.

The forces are largely providing airlift transportation, tents, barriers and other logistical support for the Border Patrol.

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1:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is criticizing Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan for dismissing his call to end so-called birthright citizenship for the children of non-U.S. citizens born in the country.

Trump tweets that Ryan “should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!”

Ryan, who is retiring from Congress after this term, said Tuesday that Trump “obviously” could not end birthright citizenship through executive action, and legal scholars are divided on whether even Congress can do it by legislation.

Trump appears to be backing off his desire to do it by executive action, tweeting, “Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!”

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10:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil “will be ended one way or the other.”

As Trump considers an executive action to curtail what he terms “so-called Birthright Citizenship,” he tweets that “It is not covered by the 14th Amendment.”

He added Wednesday: “Many legal scholars agree” with his interpretation.

In fact, House Speaker Paul Ryan and scholars widely pan the idea that Trump could unilaterally change the rules on who is a citizen. And it’s highly questionable whether an act of Congress could do it, either.

Trump has discussed the issue before and reinjected it into the political conversation just days before the 2018 midterms as he looks to energize his base.

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12:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is rushing out hardline immigration declarations, promises and actions as he tries to mobilize supporters to retain Republican control of Congress in the midterm elections.

Trump says he’s sending thousands of U.S. troops to stop an “invasion” of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border even though the migrants are on foot hundreds of miles away. Trump says tent cities could be set up for asylum seekers even though that would not resolve the massive U.S. backlog of asylum seekers. And Trump says he’d like to end the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship even though most legal scholars say that would require a new constitutional amendment.

Trump says this “has nothing to do with elections,” but his timing is striking.

Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 concentrated on border fears, and that’s his final-week focus in the midterm fight.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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