WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump renewed his threat Wednesday to send more troops to the U.S.-Mexico border after an incident in which Mexican soldiers confronted U.S. personnel. Mexico blamed the incident on confusion and said it was not looking for confrontation with the U.S.
In morning tweets, Trump said, "Mexico's Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers," claiming that it was done "probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border."
"Better not happen again!" he added. "We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!"
Trump last year dispatched U.S. troops to the border to assist border personnel in response to several caravans of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico in hopes of reaching the U.S. Many of the troops are already armed.
Earlier this month, two U.S. soldiers in a remote area of Texas were confronted by Mexican soldiers who thought the Americans had crossed into Mexico. The Mexican troops reportedly removed a weapon from one of the American soldiers. U.S. Northern Command, which manages military support for Customs and Border Protection, said the Americans were in an agency vehicle in a remote area of U.S. territory south of the border wall but north of the actual border.
"After a brief discussion between the soldiers from the two nations, the Mexican military members departed the area," Northern Command said in a statement about the encounter.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador promised at a Wednesday news conference to investigate the incident.
"We are not going to fight with the government of the United States," he said. "The most important thing is that we want a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation for development."
Mexico's foreign relations department characterized the incident as "routine" confusion in an area where the line separating the two countries is unclear.
While not every U.S. service member deployed to the border is armed, many -- including those performing the "mobile surveillance camera" mission, like the two confronted by the Mexican soldiers -- are armed for self-protection.
Asked whether Trump intended to deploy more troops in response, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump "may" do that, but she suggested the tweet was more about putting Mexico on notice.
"I think the president is just making clear, as he always has, that he has many different actions at his disposal to try to stop this humanitarian crisis," she told reporters after an interview on Fox News Channel.
The Department of Homeland Security already has been expected to ask the Pentagon for additional military assistance, and defense officials have said this likely will result in the deployment of 300 to 500 additional troops to provide various kinds of support to Customs and Border Protection. Such a move would not represent a major boost in troop strength or a change in the mission, however.
Separately, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 3-year-old boy alone in a field in Texas after likely being abandoned by smugglers at the southern border, authorities said.
Customs and Border Protection said late Tuesday that the boy's name and a phone number were written on his shoes when agents found him that morning. The agency said it is trying to reach the boy's family and that the boy "does not speak well enough to communicate."
NBC News, which first reported the story, said the boy was crying and in distress when the agents found him near Brownsville, which is at the eastern edge of the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas' Rio Grande Valley. The child will likely be sent to a facility for unaccompanied minors operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday that a Border Patrol agent purchased clothing for the child and that other officers watched movies and played games with him.
The Border Patrol apprehended nearly 9,000 unaccompanied minors just in March and more than 20,000 since January, as border crossings surged compared with recent levels. The agency said Wednesday that it could not provide a breakdown by age.
Information for this article was contributed by Robert Burns, Maria Verza, Peter Orsi and staff members of The Associated Press.
A Section on 04/25/2019
Print Headline: Trump issues warning to Mexico