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More than 7,000 active duty troops have been told to deploy to Texas, Arizona and California. They are a mix of forces, including military police, an assault helicopter battalion, various communications, medical and headquarters units, combat engineers, planners and public affairs units.

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With members of Congress focused mainly on Tuesday's midterm elections, reaction has been mild. A group of senior House Democrats wrote a letter to Mattis on Thursday expressing opposition to the military mission and demanding answers on its cost. The deployment of active duty troops, they wrote, "only exacerbates the potential to unnecessarily escalate the situation."

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A week out from the midterm elections, the Pentagon said Monday it is sending 5,200 troops, some armed, to the Southwest border in an extraordinary military operation to help stop illegal crossings by a caravan of migrants moving slowly north in Mexico.

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