The U.S. military is sending 250 active-duty troops to Eagle Pass, Texas.
That’s across the border from where some 1,800 migrants, apparently wanting to come to the U.S, are being housed by the Mexican government.
Thousands of federal, state and local authorities even military personnel have flooded this usually quiet community on the banks of the Rio Grande.
“It’s a combination of customs and border protection vehicles and Texas state troopers they are all lined up literally side by side all nose-facing towards Mexico… and then if you take a look at the other side of the Rio Grande across the border just recently we’ve seen this, Mexican authorities now lined up facing exactly the opposite direction,” CNN reporter Martin Savidge said.
Eagle Pass’s mayor is grateful but also a bit taken aback.
Mayor Ramsey English Cantu said: “We are extremely appreciative of the work that they do … but this is something that is unprecedented.”
Law enforcement patrol in vehicles, on ATV’s, on bicycles even on horseback.
Helicopters monitor from above, while high powered airboats prowl the shallow water of the Rio Grande.
The security surge is in response to the arrival of a caravan of 1,800 Central American migrants just on the other side of the border said to have their sights on seeking U.S. Asylum.
President Donald Trump has declared such caravans a national security threat and uses them to justify a border wall, painting asylum seekers as invaders.
Something he did again in his State of the Union speech.
“As we speak large organized caravans are on the march toward to the United States,” Trump said.
Federal authorities fear a potential repeat of last November’s chaos near San Diego when tear gas was used to drive back migrants rushing the border area.
Thursday border patrol agents rehearsed in riot gear on one of the town’s two public bridges to Mexico.
Bridge defenses are being beefed up.
“Part of our preparations include installation of temporary impediment measures on our bridges such as conex boxes, concertina wire and jersey barriers,” said Paul del Rincon, port director for the port of Eagle Pass,” Savidge said.
So far authorities say no caravan members have crossed illegally into the U.S.
Local leaders credit not just the American show of force but also a new stepped-up effort by the Mexican government, using its military and national police to keep caravan members under control.
But processing 1800 asylum seekers will take months.
“This isn’t going to be short term thing then?” Savidge said.
“It doesn’t seem like it. it doesn’t seem like it, but you know, we stand committed, my officers stand committed,” said del Rincon.
No one in Eagle Pass can tell you when or even how this international showdown will end.
Rincon also said about 16 to 20 asylum cases can be processed each day.
Meanwhile, the migrants are staying in an old warehouse that has been turned into a shelter.