Support by the U.S. military for Customs and Border Protection Agents has cost taxpayers an estimated $210 million dollars, a report from the Pentagon said.
The report was issued to Congress on Tuesday, the Associated Press reports.
In the report, $72 million has been spent for the estimated 5,900 troops supporting Customs and Border Protection. An additional $138 million to support 2,100 National Guard troops who have been involved in another border operation since April 2018.
Approximately 2,800 of the active-duty soldiers are stationed in South Texas, leaving 3,800 to operate in other areas, including the stretch of the U.S./Mexico border in California. That area is the closest to Tijuana, Mexico where some of the so-called migrant caravan has arrived.
The migrant caravan was the reason President Donald Trump activated the troops and ordered them to support Customs and Border Protection.
On Tuesday, Trump told reporters not to worry about the soldiers over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Don’t worry about the Thanksgiving. These are tough people. They know what they’re doing and they’re great and they’ve done a great job. … They are so proud to be representing our country on the border where if you look at what’s happening, Mexico, the people from Tijuana are saying, wow these are tough people. They’re fighting us,” Trump said.
The deployment is currently assigned to serve until Dec. 15, with the $210 million total in the Pentagon’s report reflecting that timeframe. However, many expect the mission to be extended, meaning that the costs will rise.
An extended assignment will also mean that some military personnel will spend Christmas away from their homes.
The report from the Pentagon was working on a possible change to the assignment for the troops which would allow them to protect Customs and Border Protection employees. Currently, the military members can only defend themselves.
The cost of the current mission has thus far totaled about $14 million in supplies, travel, and transportation for troops. The Pentagon estimates in the report that $19 million will be spent for salaries, $20 million for transportation and supplies, $28 in operating expenses and $5 million for supplies directly tied to materials used to fortify the border.
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