Donna, Texas — As migrants in caravans continue to arrive at the California-Mexico border, questions loom about the need to keep soldiers deployed in Texas and other parts of the southwest border.
Although there is a tentative deadline to bring troops home, some wonder if they will return before the holidays.
Many people in the migrant caravan are still on the move, however, and the Mexican state of Baja California has seen upwards of 6,000 people arrive in the last week.
Clashes between migrants and some Tijuana residents – who complain about their presence in town – are keeping authorities on both sides of the border on high alert. The skirmishes even caused U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to temporarily shut down the San Ysidro port of entry Monday, so that military engineers could fortify it.
CBP has depended on that type of military intervention since early November. Although wiith its focus shifting to California, Army Lieutenant General Jeffrey Buchanan has yet to move any more troops there.
“We actually have plenty at each place,” he said.
As of Tuesday, there has been no change in the number of soldiers deployed to the border. About half of the 5,800 soldiers are in Texas. 1,400 are in the Rio Grande Valley, at the opposite end of the US-Mexico border.
“Even though right now this is a temporary mission that’s due to end on 15 December, we may find we’re done with a certain capability, let’s say in Texas, before 15th of December. Well, we’re not going to just keep them in the field to keep them in the field,” said Lt. Gen. Buchanan.
In a statement, U.S. Army North said there is still no specific timeline to withdraw and the mission could change at any moment.
While it’s still unclear if service members will get to go home before Christmas, we do know that soldiers in the RGV based in Camp Donna are preparing to spend Thanksgiving away from family.
“I have a wife and three little girls,” said Army Major Derek Wamsley.
Maj. Wamsley’s family is in Arizona while he’s deployed to Texas. He said the command staff is trying to keep morale up by providing Thanksgiving meals and giving soldiers some leisure time.
“We’re going to be eating turkey and probably sharing a little bit of time on FaceTime. So, yeah, it’s just going to be a good holiday for everybody,” he said.