U.S.

Donald Trump Military Border Mission Could Cost U.S. $470 Million In 2019 Alone

President Donald Trump's deployment of active duty U.S. troops and National Guard forces to the U.S.-Mexico border could cost the country as much as $470 million during the 2019 fiscal year alone, now that the Pentagon has extended the border mission until the end of September. That's according to the latest estimates. 

Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced it would be extending the deployment of active-duty troops until September 30, adding 289 days to the ongoing border mission. 

Read more: ICE, other agencies, see transparency take major hit during government shutdown

Estimates sent to Newsweek by the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), an independent and nonpartisan policy research institute, suggest that the extension could add about $170 million in additional costs beyond what the Pentagon had previously announced. 

"Altogether, the deployments of both active-duty and National Guard troops to the border could cost in the neighborhood of $410 million to $470 million during fiscal year 2019," Travis Sharp, CSBA researcher for defense budget studies, told Newsweek. 

Sharp said that the number could be significantly higher, however, if the Trump administration decided to boost the number of troops at the border over the coming months. 

The U.S. leader had initially ordered more than 5,000 active-duty forces to be deployed to the southern border in late October as a caravan of Central American asylum seekers made its way toward the U.S. Since then, the number of troops stationed along the border has dropped to about 2,350, according to The Associated Press. 

Given the timing of the deployment, which was ordered only days before the November midterm elections, Trump faced widespread accusations—particularly from Democrats—of political fearmongering. 

Even Pentagon officials criticized the mission, with a number of Defense Department sources with knowledge of the directive telling Newsweek that senior officers viewed the move as a politically motivated waste of money. 

The deployment, previously dubbed "Operation Faithful Patriot," had originally been slated to end on December 15. It was first extended to January 31 before receiving its most recent extension until September 30.

In a release announcing the extension, the Pentagon said that the military's focus at the southern border would change from "hardening points of entry" to "mobile surveillance and detection," and installing concertina wire between ports of entry and continuing to provide aviation support. 

The decision to extend the deployment to the U.S.-Mexico border comes as a new caravan of hundreds of asylum seekers makes its way from Honduras to the U.S. after departing from the Central American country on Monday. 

Trump has used news of the caravan's journey to defend his refusal to sign off on any spending bill to reopen parts of the government that have been closed in the ongoing partial government shutdown—which entered its 27th day on Thursday—that does not include funding for his long-promised border wall.

On Tuesday, the president tweeted that "a big new Caravan is heading up to our Southern Border from Honduras. 

"Tell Nancy and Chuck that a drone flying around will not stop them," he said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

"Only a Wall will work. Only a Wall, or Steel Barrier, will keep our Country safe! Stop playing political games and end the Shutdown!," Trump tweeted. 

But Democrats have remained firm in their refusal to provide the $5.7 billion in funding Trump has demanded for the construction of his border wall. 

With both sides steadfast, there appears to be no end in sight for the government shutdown, with Trump warning that the federal closures could go on for "years" if Democrats do not bend to his will. 

GettyImages-1062078994 Members of the U.S. military who were sent to secure the U.S.-Mexico border sit on a truck near Otay Mesa port of entry, in California, on November 15, 2018. The border deployment has been extended to September 30, 2019, and could cost the country as much as $470 million during the 2019 fiscal year alone. ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP/Getty

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