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Mark Esper blocked Trump Admin plan to send 250,000 troops to Mexican border and launch raids against cartels in 2020: report

New York Times: “President Trump’s defense secretary thought the idea was outrageous. In the spring of 2020, Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary, was alarmed to learn of an idea under discussion at a top military command and at the Department of Homeland Security to send as many as 250,000 troops – more than half the active U.S. Army, and a sixth of all American forces – to the southern border in what would have been the largest use of the military inside the United States since the Civil War. With the coronavirus pandemic raging, Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s immigration agenda, had urged the Homeland Security Department to develop a plan for the number of troops that would be needed to seal the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico. It is not clear whether it was officials in homeland security or the Pentagon who concluded that a quarter of a million troops would be required. The concept was relayed to officials at the Defense Department’s Northern Command, which is responsible for all military operations in the United States and on its borders, according to several former senior administration officials.”

“Officials said the idea was never presented formally to Trump for approval, but it was discussed in meetings at the White House as they debated other options for closing the border to illegal immigration. Esper declined to comment. But people familiar with his conversations, who declined to speak about them on the record, said he was enraged by Miller’s plan. In addition, homeland security officials had bypassed his office by taking the idea directly to military officials at Northern Command. Around the same time that officials considered the huge deployment to the American side of the border with Mexico, Trump also pressed his top aides to send forces into Mexico itself to hunt drug cartels, much like American commandos have tracked and killed terrorists in Afghanistan or Pakistan, the officials said.”

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