As many as 4,000 troops from the U.S. National Guard could be deployed to Mexico's border to bulk up law enforcement, President Donald Trump has confirmed – the first details he has given since announcing the plan on Wednesday.
Trump said at least 2,000 personnel would be deployed and some, if not all, will remain there until his planned – and highly controversial – border wall has been built. Guards will be involved in a 24-hour "border security support cell," the Pentagon said in a statement.
General law enforcement duties, such as patrols and arrests, will be reserved for other law officials, Acting Deputy Commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Ronald Vitiello said, cautioning officials against a hasty deployment for safety reasons.
Trump's initial announcement earlier this week received serious backlash from rights groups, as well as his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto.
In a statement, Nieto urged Trump to negotiate with Mexico, adding that difficulties between neighbors don't "justify threatening or disrespectful attitudes."
"If your recent statements are the result of frustration due to domestic policy issues, to your laws, or to your Congress, it is to them that you should turn to, not to Mexicans," Nieto said in a video statement published on Twitter.
"We're not going to permit that negative rhetoric to define our actions. We're only going to work in the best interest of the Mexicans."
Trump responded on Thursday, using Mexico's crime rate – specifically rape – as a reason to prevent Central Americans from migrating to the United States via caravans.
"Yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don't want to mention that, so we have to change our laws," Trump said.
However, one Salvadoran woman told CNN the caravan's sheer size provides ample protection for migrant women.
"It really makes absolutely no sense to use this narrative that migrants, who are coming because of violence, are violent themselves, and then say that's why we need to close our border," Daniella Burgi-Palomino, Latin America Working Group senior associate for Mexico and migration, told CNN.
"The woman who's endured sexual abuse should not be turned away at the border. She's in need of health and medical attention," Burgi-Palomino said.
According to U.S. national radio network NPR, the number of illegal border crossings is currently at its lowest in over 40 years.