US President Donald Trump's decision to send 5200 American soldiers to the US-Mexico border is a major escalation of the White House's response to the migrant 'caravan' approaching through Mexico.
Homeland Security and Pentagon officials said that the soldiers would focus on helping secure key points of entry into the United States. The deployment has been named 'Operation Faithful Patriot'.
The announcement today is likely to help draw attention ahead of the Midterm elections next week back to migration, as Trump faces difficult questions over gun control and inciting violence in the wake of the Pittsburgh mass shooting and politically-motivated mail-bombs.
Added to the 2000 troops already at the border, Trump's announcement means the number of US soldiers on the southern border will be roughly be the same as those serving in Syria and Iraq combined.
Three helicopters will be deployed and enough barbed wire will be made available to cover 240km of the border. The troops will be sent to Texas, Arizona and California by the end of the week.
Officials today played down any political motive, saying that it was about safety and deterring the caravan of around 3500 migrants which is heading to the border.
However critics have accused Mr Trump of playing up immigration fears for electoral advantage given that voting in the crucial Midterm elections is just a week away. The caravan is not due to reach America for weeks.
Robert Bowers, the 46-year-old charged with the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue, appeared in court in a wheelchair, flanked by marshals and with his hands shackled in his lap.
He spoke at the federal courthouse in Pittsburgh to confirm his name, that he had been given a copy of the 29 charges - including 11 counts of murder – and requested a court-appointed defence team.
"Yes," he answered in a clear, firm voice each time. He waived his right to a detention hearing which means he will remain in the custody of the marshals' service. He is expected back in court on Friday.
Cesar Sayoc, the 56-year-old Florida man accused of posting pipe bombs to leading liberals including the Obamas and the Clintons, was also due in court today.
It emerged that a third suspected bomb targeting the broadcaster CNN had been discovered. The package was intercepted at an Atlanta post office. It is unclear if it is linked to last week's attacks.
In recent weeks Mr Trump has issued a series of escalating warnings over the so-called 'caravan' of migrants walking through Mexico who hope to make it into America. At peak there were an estimated 7000 people taking part, though estimates are now around 3500.
The US President has floated the idea of closing the border and dubbed it a "national emergency", despite the caravan still being weeks away from reaching the perimeter of the United States.
Critics and political opponents, including the former president Barack Obama, have accused Trump of whipping up concerns about illegal immigration for political gain.
On November 7 NZT, all US House of Representative seats and a third of US Senate seats are up for election, with the Republican majority in both bodies of Congress hanging in the balance.