PROGRESO, TX — One of the first military units under Operation Faithful Patriot has landed near the border in Harlingen, Texas. It’s part of the 5,200 soldiers sent under President Donald Trump’s orders to help border agents as the migrant caravan continues to travel north through Mexico.
Images from the U.S. Air Force showed soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas landing at Valley International Airport in Harlingen on Thursday.
In southern Arizona, another group unloaded on Wednesday night.
It’s the first batch out of thousands of service members being deployed not for combat or immigration enforcement but to assist Customs and Border Protection with planning, engineering, equipment, and other resources.
The troops are an addition to the 2,100 National Guard personnel who were deployed in April.
But that may be just the beginning.
“We have about 5,800 [who] will go up to anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 [soldiers],” President Trump said.
That’s about twice as many as in Syria and Iraq combined, according to numbers from the Department of Defense.
At the Hidalgo Port of Entry, passersby have been witnessing law enforcement exercises nearby. Juana Vasquez, visiting from Mexico, said that she saw a helicopter conducting a military drill as she was crossing the bridge into the U.S.
“It’s very good, what they’re doing,” she said. “People could die or get hurt, especially children. There needs to be calm and order.”
Twenty miles east at the Progreso International Bridge, other security measures have taken place in the form of chain-linked fences. Port Director Julie Ramirez says that they were installed over the weekend to help with crowd control in case the caravan gets out of hand.
“We’ve got to control how many people come into our country. We just can’t arbitrarily let everybody come in,” resident Paul Neff said.
“It seems to me that it’s pretty much overkill,” argued Judith Morales, a Brownsville resident who added that she’s noticed the beefed-up security in the area.
Although she admits that some in the caravan might not have good intentions, she believes it doesn’t merit the president’s response.
“I do not feel a threat and I don’t feel that this area is threatened,” she said.
Meanwhile, the first part of the migrant caravan continues its slow trek through southern Mexico, with numbers dwindling each day.