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Joint Chiefs chair: Troops at border will not 'come in contact with immigrants'

Joint Chiefs chair: Troops at border will not 'come in contact with immigrants'
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The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday that U.S. military personnel will not interact with migrants approaching the U.S. border after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to oust Nielsen as early as this week: report California wildfire becomes deadliest in state’s history Sinema’s Senate win cheered by LGBTQ groups MORE deployed thousands of troops to prepare for the caravan.

"There is no plan for U.S. military forces to be involved in the actual mission of denying people entry to the United States," Gen. Joseph Dunford said, according to ABC News.

"There is no plan for the soldiers to come in with immigrants or to reinforce the Department of Homeland Security as they are conducting their mission," he continued. "We are providing enabling capability."

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Military personnel will instead focusing on assisting Border Patrol staff to fill in gaps in physical barriers along the border, ABC reported.

Troops assisted in laying barbed wire along the border over the weekend.

Trump has in recent weeks made the approaching caravan of migrants a focal point of his midterm campaign message. He has painted the group as an imminent threat to national security, and dispatched the military to the border in response.

The president has suggested troops might fire upon migrants who throw rocks, but later walked back those remarks.

Critics have suggested the deployment is a political stunt intended to gin up fervor among his base of supporters.

The Pentagon is on track to send 7,000 active-duty troops to the southern border to stay through Dec. 15, but Trump said he may order the military to send as many as 15,000 to meet a shrinking caravan of several thousand migrants traveling from Central America.

The troop deployment along the border could cost between $42 million and $110 million, according to an independent study released Monday.