Trump: Troops to stay on border ‘as long as necessary’

Trump: Troops to stay on border ‘as long as necessary’
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE on Saturday insisted that troops will be stationed at the southern border for “as long as necessary,” despite calls to send the service members home for Thanksgiving.

Trump spoke with reporters at the White House before leaving for a trip to California, saying troops have built a “very beautiful fence.”

“The fence is fully manned, nobody gets through,” Trump said. “When they’re caught, they’re not released.”

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Trump ordered U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border last month in the lead-up to the midterm elections, saying they were necessary ahead of the arrival of a caravan of Central American asylum-seekers.

The number of active-duty U.S. military personnel station at the U.S.-Mexico border has “peaked” at roughly 5,800 troops, a top Pentagon official said Thursday.

Trump previously threatened to send upwards of 15,000 troops to the border, which would equal more total service members than the U.S. has stationed in Afghanistan.

The current deployment at the border, which is aimed at supporting U.S. Customs and Border Protections, was initially expected to reach more than 7,000 troops and last through Dec. 15.

The troops joined nearly 2,100 National Guardsmen already stationed at the border to assist Homeland Security personnel.

Trump’s deployment to the southern border could cost between $42 million to $110 million, according to an independent study released earlier this month.

The president has faced some calls to send the troops home to be with their families on Thanksgiving since the caravan has not yet arrived at the border.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank on Saturday criticized Trump over the issue, saying the president was reportedly planning to spend Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago resort while troops eat Army rations.

“This is the time when another president would pay a Thanksgiving visit to the troops he has mobilized. President George W. Bush famously visited Iraq on Thanksgiving in 2003,” he wrote.

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds Bullock: Running for Senate 'never really got me excited' Cruz asks Trump FAA pick to 'be pissed off' about Boeing crash deaths MORE (D-Hawaii) made a similar argument last week, saying it was scandalous for Trump to keep troops at the border “for no national security reason.”

“Deploying troops to our own border for no national security reason is one of the biggest scandals of this Presidency,” Schatz said in a tweet. “These dedicated, skilled, highly trained men and women will likely miss Thanksgiving w family, are near American cities but eating [meals ready to eat].

“Let them go home,” he added.