President Donald Trump’s military deployment to the U.S.-Mexico border could cost more than $200 million by the year’s end, according to figures reported by mainstream media outlets.
The price tag includes National Guard forces placed at the border since April and could go even higher if the deployments continue into 2019, published reports state. As many as 15,000 troops could be placed at the border, a figure that would be nearly as large as the number of U.S. troops reportedly in Afghanistan.
What's the perspective?
Although the cost of the border deployments is tiny compared to the total $716 billion annual defense budget, it comes at a time when the Trump administration is seeking a $33 billion cut in military spending. The cuts are coming in response to the largest increase in the federal deficit in six years, according to the Washington Post.
Some veterans and Democratic lawmakers have said they believe border troops are a waste of military dollars and amount to political grandstanding ahead of the midterm elections on Tuesday.
“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 Jim Mattis on Nov. 1.
Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection has said the deployment is needed to handle the arrival of as many as 7,000 migrants that are attempting to walk from Central America to the U.S. border.
Military documents published by Newsweek predicted that only 1,400 migrants or about 20 percent of the original caravan will make it that far.
“The military has a lot of things that it needs to be doing these days,” Susanna Blume, a former Pentagon official and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told the Washington Post. “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.”
Under an order Trump issued in April, about 2,000 forces from the National Guard are already at the border. This week, Trump said he could deploy between between 10,000 and 15,000 troops. It wasn’t immediately clear if the figure includes the National Guard deployment from April.
The Pentagon reportedly told media that from April 10 through Sept. 30, the National Guard deployment has already cost an estimated $103 million.