The Pentagon will send another 320 military personnel to the U.S.-Mexico border for roles that include “monitoring the welfare of individuals” in Customs and Border Protection custody, according to a Defense Department statement released Monday.
“Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has approved a Department of Homeland Security request for DoD support in response to the humanitarian crisis at the border,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said in the statement.
“DoD personnel will assist in driving high-capacity CBP vehicles to transport migrants; providing administrative support, including providing heating, meal distribution and monitoring the welfare of individuals in CBP custody; and attorney support to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)].”
Under a 2006 policy that was in effect until Monday, military personnel were prohibited from coming into contact with migrants. However, a waiver was provided last year to allow troops to provide emergency medical care
The new change will also allow military lawyers, cooks and drivers to help with handling migrants entering the United States.
The roughly 320 DOD personnel required will provide assistance through September 30 at an estimated cost of $7.4 million.
The new troops join the now roughly 3,000 active-duty service members already at the southern border. Trump first deployed troops last year to assist in addressing a migrant caravan traveling to the United States from Central America.
Those troops are in addition to about 2,000 National Guard members who were deployed in April 2018 to assist in border security.