- Associated Press - Saturday, February 23, 2019

EL PASO, Texas (AP) - The Latest on Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan’s visit to the Southwest border (all times local):

6:50 p.m.

Top defense officials have toured sections of the U.S.-Mexico border to see how the military could reinforce efforts to block drug smuggling and other illegal activity. The Pentagon is weighing the diversion of billions of dollars for President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, accompanied by the Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford, was visiting a border site near El Paso, Texas Saturday, called Monument Site 3 where a stretch of 18-foot border wall stands atop a huge landfill.

Shanahan and Dunford got an up-close look at U.S. Border Patrol vehicles used for surveillance. The Department of Homeland Security has requested Pentagon help in operating about 150 of the vehicle-mounted surveillance cameras, which can see as far as eight miles away.

___

11:16 a.m.

The Pentagon’s acting chief is visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas as he considers how to use emergency powers invoked by President Donald Trump to help build a border wall.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan arrived Saturday in El Paso with Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Shanahan plans to get a firsthand view of areas along the border, west of El Paso, where military troops are assisting U.S. Customs and Border Protection with barrier replacement work. The sites are along known drug smuggling corridors.

It’s Shanahan’s first visit to the border since taking over at the Pentagon on Jan. 1 after Jim Mattis resigned as defense secretary in protest of Trump’s policies.

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