Construction crews staged material needed for the Santa Teresa Border Wall Replacement project near the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Mani Albrecht)
With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"
But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.
Soldiers deploy concertina wire in a location along the Southwest border of the United States near Hidalgo, Texas. U.S. Army North is deployed to the southwest border under the authority of U.S. Northern Command to support the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection's mission to secure the border. (U.S. Customs and Border Patrol)
Approximately 3,750 fresh U.S. service members will deploy to the the southwest border provide additional support to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol personnel, the Department of Defense announced on Sunday.
That additional support includes "a mobile surveillance capability" through the end of September 2019, in additional to "the emplacement of approximately 150 miles of concertina wire between ports of entry," according to the Pentagon announcement.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan approved the deployment on Jan. 11, per the Pentagon, but the estimated troop numbers were first disclosed to the public by House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith (D-Calif.) on Thursday after DoD officials failed to mention it during a congressional hearing the previous Tuesday.
"This is a violation of the executive branch's obligation to be transparent with Congress, which oversees, authorizes, and funds its operations," Smith said. "It also raises questions about whether the department thinks the policy of sending additional troops to the border is so unjustified that they cannot defend an increase in public."
The Pentagon said that officials hadn't yet announced the deployment, which includes 250 more service members than the 3,500 noted by Smith, "because it is still determining which units will be sent to the border," as Task & Purpose's Jeff Schogol reported on Tuesday
The deployment will bring the total number of active-duty forces currently assisting CPB personnel at the U.S.-Mexico border to 4,350.