WASHINGTON-A day after President Donald Trump said he would use the military to help control the southwest border, the secretary of Homeland Security said the National Guard is being primed for deployment.
The order follows an earlier tweet on Tuesday by Mr Trump, saying the USA border laws are "very weak while those of Mexico and Canada are very strong", and that he would be taking "strong action today".
Sec. 3. The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Attorney General, are directed to determine what other resources and actions are necessary to protect our southern border, including Federal law enforcement and United States military resources.
The troops could be deployed at the US-Mexican border at the intervening night of April 4 and April 5 in conjunction with the state governors.
In keeping with a theme he often invoked as a candidate in 2016 and has continually returned to since taking office, Republican Trump has sharpened his anti-immigrant rhetoric, warning that illegal immigrants threaten US safety and jobs. President Barack Obama also sent about 1,200 troops in 2010 to beef up efforts against drug smuggling and illegal immigration.
Under Operation Jump Start, 6,000 National Guard troops were sent to assist the border patrol with non-law enforcement duties while additional border agents were hired and trained.
Trump wants to send the US military to protect the border with Mexico while the new border wall he wants is built and Nielsen also said the administration was "looking into options for the military to build a wall" on military installations on the border.
"I don't want to get ahead of the governors", she said at the White House Wednesday. "It's time to act".
Trump had hinted earlier this week that he was planning to send some type of US military personnel to the border.
The president said he had already discussed the new mission for the military with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the deployment plan was a positive step, but Congress must do more to fix "a broken immigration system". "We really haven't done that before, or certainly not very much before".
Nielsen said the troops will deploy to help the Border Patrol to "fill the gaps".
Trump announced on Tuesday that he plans to deploy the military to the southern border until his long-promised wall is built.
Trump's tweets, including an accusation that "our country is being stolen", follows Fox News coverage about a self-declared "caravan" moving through Mexico consisting of less than 1,000 people, mostly from Honduras and other Central American countries. He also incorrectly asserted that Central American immigrants were trying to take advantage of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which he rescinded upon taking office.