Exclusive: Trump weighs authorizing U.S. troops to medically screen migrants
By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's administration is considering giving U.S.
By Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's administration is considering giving U.S. troops on the border with Mexico the authority to carry out medical screening of migrants, U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
The proposal, which is still in draft form and circulating within the administration, would involve the military in screenings for things like illness and injury only if U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency personnel were overwhelmed and unable to do so on their own, the officials said.
The proposal would expand the mission for the Pentagon, which said previously it did not expect its forces to directly interact with migrants.
The Pentagon declined to comment.
U.S. military duties on the border, including stringing up concertina wire and building temporary housing, have been aimed at supporting CBP personnel.
The U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters about the proposal did so on condition of anonymity because Trump has not yet signed off on the idea.
It was unclear if the proposal, if confirmed in the coming days, might prolong the deployment of at least some troops at the border.
The commander of the mission told Reuters last week that the number of troops may have peaked at around 5,800, and he would soon look at whether to begin sending forces home or shifting some to new border positions.
Trump, who won the presidency in 2016 after a campaign promising to crack down on illegal immigration, has seized upon migrant caravans headed towards the U.S. border, comparing it to an "invasion."
Critics have derided his position as a stunt that politicizes the military.
About 6,000 Central Americans have reached the Mexican border cities of Tijuana and Mexicali, according to local officials. More bands of migrants are making their way towards Tijuana, with around 10,000 expected.
In Tijuana and other ports of entry, CBP officers are trained to check migrants and travellers for obvious signs of infectious conditions, like fever, bleeding from the eyes or other symptoms of "quarantinable and communicable diseases," according to a 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service.
One U.S. official said that under the latest proposal, U.S. troops would be the option of last resort to carry out medical screenings if other officials, such as from state and local governments or the National Guard, were not available or overwhelmed.
"The intent of the authorities is not to bring the troops in closer contact with the migrants but to provide medical assistance if needed," the official said.
On Monday, Reuters reported that Trump was likely to give U.S. troops authority to protect immigration agents stationed along the U.S. border with Mexico if they come under threat from migrants seeking to cross into the United States.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney and Bill Berkrot)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.