Mattis Approves Up to 4,000 National Guard Troops to Guard U.S. Border

Secretary of Defense James Mattis awaits the arrival of Slovenia’s Minister of Defense Andreja Katic for meetings at the Pentagon on April 6, 2018 in Washington.
Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Images

The National Guard will deploy nearly 500 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, the government announced Friday, in the first step in President Donald Trump’s plan to curb illegal immigration.

The first troops will arrive in the next 24 to 48 hours, according to a senior defense official.

A Pentagon memo about the deployment calls for up to 4,000 troops from border states to be assigned through Sept. 30. It says that the troops will not be used for law enforcement or interaction with immigrants unless Defense Secretary James Mattis approves it, and that the troops will be armed only if required for self-defense. Mattis signed the memo late Friday.

The initial deployment of 500 will include soldiers and airmen, according to a statement Friday from the National Guard, which said it was also sending “vehicles, equipment and helicopters starting tonight.”

Many details, such as total manpower, the duration of the mission and costs, are still being negotiated.

Trump, according to his advisers, is eager to put “boots on the ground” as soon as possible.

Texas Military Department Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris said Friday evening, “Within 72 hours the Texas Military Department will have 250 personnel along with ground surveillance vehicles as well as light- and medium-aviation platforms.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: NBC News, Courtney Kube and Julia Ainsley