The massive deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border ordered by President Donald Trump this year, including National Guard members who were sent in April, could have a price tag upwards of $200 million, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
> The deployment of as many as 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border — potentially equal in size to the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan — occurs as the budgetary largesse the military has enjoyed since Trump took office looks set to come to an end.
> Although the costs of the border deployments will be a tiny slice of a $716-billion annual defense budget, they arrive as the Trump administration is calling on the Pentagon to cut unnecessary expenditures. The White House recently ordered the Pentagon to slash next year's budget by about $33 billion in response to the largest increase in the federal deficit in six years.
Trump has faced accusations that the deployment is unnecessary and nothing more than political stunt to bolster support and secure votes ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections — a charge he and others in the administration have denied.
> "Instead of working in a bipartisan manner to make comprehensive, common-sense and humane reforms to our immigration system, the president continues to turn to politically motivated fear mongering and uses [Department of Defense] resources and personnel as a means to drive his troubling anti-immigration agenda," more than 100 House Democrats wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary James N. Mattis on Nov. 1.
> Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the deployment as "wasteful" in a message on Twitter and said Marines and soldiers were already overstretched.
But Mattis said responded last week saying the military doesn’t do stunts, and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the move is necessary to "effectively and safely" deal with as many 7,000 migrants heading toward the border.
> But military planning documents, dated Oct. 27 and published by Newsweek, predicted that only 20% of the migrants, or about 1,400 at the higher end of estimates, were likely to complete the journey to the border, raising questions about the size of the deployment.
> "The military has a lot of things that it needs to be doing these days," said Susanna Blume, a former Pentagon official and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. "Looking at estimates of the size of the caravan, you could ask the question as to whether this is the most appropriate use of U.S. active-duty forces."
It remains unclear what the total number of troops will be after Trump's deployment is complete, but 2,000 National Guard troops have been at the border since the spring and the Northern Command said 7,000 active duty troops will be joining them.