About 200 Marines from Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Division will be among 1,500 troops sent to the U.S.-Mexico border to work with Customs and Border Protection as pandemic restrictions expire and a surge of migrants arrive.
The Camp Pendleton Marines will join about 350 Marines from the 2nd Division at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and will be assigned duties by the Border Patrol agents. Some of the work could include data entry, warehousing support and additional detection and monitoring support as part of Joint Task Force North, said 1st Lt. Ana Chiu with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton.
The first 550 American service members are expected to arrive at the border on Friday and the remaining 950 troops, which will also include service members from the Army and Air Force, will arrive between May 27 and June 5, said Lt. Col Sonie Munson, a U.S. Army spokesperson for the U.S. Northern Command.
Presently, the Department of Defense expects to provide troops to the Department of Homeland Security for up to 90 days.
Officials with the DOD would not disclose planned areas of operation for the troops because of security concerns, but said they will be working at various Customs and Border Protection locations along the border.
By U.S. law, active duty military personnel are not permitted to conduct any activities that are inherently law enforcement responsibilities, and for this mission will not be allowed direct contact with the migrants, a Department of Defense spokesman said.
In 2018, about 1,100 Camp Pendleton Marines deployed to the border as caravans of migrants from Central America approached.
At that time, most of the Marines supported the Border Patrol agents by helping build barriers, barricades and fencing. They also worked as medical teams, set up command and control facilities, constructed temporary housing for Customs and Border Protection personnel and provided personal protective equipment for those troops.