Military in Nogales lends hand to Operation Secure Line

Military in Nogales lends hand to Operation Secure Line

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - On Friday, Tucson News Now was able to get more details on Operation Secure Line.

It’s a joint operation between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the military.

The goal is secure board as thousands of Central American migrants head towards the United States.

The military will play a support role for Border Patrol.

They have 1,500 military personnel, all active duty members.

These members include, Military police, medical staff and transportation folks.

The Border Patrol offered a tour to the media, the same day President Donald Trump issued a proclamation to deny asylum to migrants who enter the country illegally.

The move tightened the border as caravans of Central Americans slowly approach the United States. The plan was immediately challenged in court.

Trump invoked the same powers he used last year to impose a travel ban that was upheld by the Supreme Court. The new regulations are intended to circumvent laws stating that anyone is eligible for asylum no matter how he or she enters the country. About 70,000 people per year who enter the country illegally claim asylum, officials said.

"We need people in our country, but they have to come in legally," Trump said Friday as he departed for Paris.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other legal groups swiftly sued in federal court in Northern California to block the regulations, arguing the measures were illegal.

The U.S. Border Patrol said it apprehended more than 50,000 people crossing illegally in October, setting a new high this year, though illegal crossings are well below historical highs from previous decades.

Also on Friday, Border Patrol said But the busy ports of entry already have long lines and waits, forcing immigration officials to tell some migrants to turn around and come back to make their claims. Backlogs have become especially bad in recent months at crossings in California, Arizona and Texas, with some people waiting five weeks to try to claim asylum at San Diego’s main crossing.

Homeland Security officials said they were adding staffing at the border crossings to manage the expected crush, but it’s not clear how migrants, specifically families, would be held as their cases are adjudicated. Family detention centers are largely at capacity. Trump has said he wanted to erect “tent cities,” but nothing has been funded.

The U.S. is also working with Mexico in an effort to send some migrants back across the border. Right now, laws allow only Mexican nationals to be swiftly returned and increasingly those claiming asylum are from Central America.

Migrants who cross illegally are generally arrested and often seek asylum or some other form of protection. Claims have spiked in recent years and the immigration court backlog has more than doubled to 1.1 million cases in about two years, Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse reported this week. Generally, only about 20 percent of applicants are approved.

It’s unclear how many people en route to the U.S. will even make it to the border. Roughly 5,000 migrants - more than 1,700 under the age of 18 - sheltered in a Mexico City sports complex decided to depart Friday for the northern city of Tijuana, opting for the longer but likely safer route to the U.S. border.

Copyright 2018 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.