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More than 150 service members headed to border crossings in California, Texas

The decision comes after a recent court ruling that temporarily blocked a Trump administration policy forcing asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico.
People head to the United States at El Chaparral port of entry, on the U.S.-Mexico border, as seen from Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on Feb. 13, 2020.Guillermo Arias / AFP - Getty Images file

More than 150 service members assigned to support Customs and Border Protection will be re-positioned near official border crossings in San Ysidro, California, and El Paso, Texas, the Department of Defense said Friday.

Those approximately 160 service members were to be sent near U.S. ports of entry to place “temporary barriers to restrict access through ports of entry and provide force protection for CBP personnel as they perform their federal functions,” Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a spokesperson for the department, said in a statement.

The spokesperson said the move was in accordance with previously approved requests for assistance.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has also ordered the state's National Guard to deploy a team of soldiers to the Brownsville area "to conduct quick reaction force training in support of CBP," the spokesperson said.

The decision comes after a recent court ruling that temporarily blocked a Trump administration policy forcing asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico.

Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stopped President Donald Trump’s remain-in-Mexico policy along the entire southern border, but later suspended its own order. The government had argued it would imperil communities along the border as an estimated 25,000 asylum-seekers who were encouraged to stay in Mexico got the green light to come north and argue their cases.

In the aftermath of the ruling, groups of migrants came to the U.S. border in the hopes of being removed from the program.

On Wednesday, the court said it would block the policy only in the states under its direct authority, California and Arizona, beginning next week unless the Supreme Court weighs in sooner.

Senior CBP officials said Friday last week's block had shown "the balance between facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel while upholding our national border security mission and the safety of the public and our personnel is delicate."

They said the agency had to close or partially suspend operations in multiple locations because of the groups of migrants coming to the border.

The officials said based on the pending court decision there was continued concern about migrant groups coming to official crossings.

About 80 of the service members will be re-positioned to Texas and another 80 to California, the officials said.

About 60,000 migrants have been subjected to the remain-in-Mexico policy since it began more than a year ago.

In the 9th Circuit's decision Wednesday, the court reaffirmed that the remain-in -Mexico policy was illegal under U.S. law and there was no question about “the extreme danger to asylum seekers who are returned to Mexico."

Immigration advocates and attorneys have said the policy illegally and improperly subjects asylum-seekers to dangerous conditions in border towns.