Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will travel to the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday amid continued questions on cost and whether the caravan’s shifting destination may mean changes for the majority of troops now in Texas.
In the last several days, the thousands of men, women and children migrating by foot and truck northward through Mexico have turned toward California instead of Texas. The caravan has reached as far as Guadalajara, Mexico, which is about 1,100 miles from the U.S. border checkpoint between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, and about 500 miles from McAllen, Texas, where thousands of U.S. troops have amassed and set up barriers of cement and concertina wire.
Mattis' trip also comes amid reports from The Washington Post that President Donald Trump was set to remove Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen from the position in favor of someone who will take a harder line on immigration.
On Tuesday, Mattis told reporters the current mission at the border remains unchanged.
“We meet daily on this issue and coordinate amongst us. The first thing briefed is ‘what is the threat against the border’ .... right now there’s no change on that mission set,” Mattis said.
The Pentagon also still has provided no cost estimate for the deployment of what is expected to be a total responding force of 7,000 troops. Mattis said they are tracking each of the units and would provide the cost when its available.
“We’ll update you on costs as they become known. Obviously the units executing the border mission have got to report them up right up here. We are capturing the costs,” he said.
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."