Senator Chuck Grassley. (file photo)

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he supports the troop buildup on the U.S. border with Mexico as a caravan of several thousand Central American migrants approaches.

Initially, 800 active duty soldiers were going to be dispatched to the border. Now, the number is over five-thousand troops, combined with another two-thousand-plus National Guard members who were already assigned there.

“One of the definitions of a sovereign nation is protecting its borders and, quite frankly, arresting 1,000 people every day, sometimes 1,700, to send them back because they entered the country illegally, we’re not doing a very good job of protecting our borders,” Grassley says. “We should protect our borders.” More than 73-hundred troops should be at the border before Election Day, which is reportedly more American soldiers than are now deployed in Iraq and Syria combined. Grassley says the U.S. would welcome these people — if they’d follow the rules.

“Let’s say there’s 5,000 in this caravan. That’s a spit in the ocean compared to the million people that we take in every year legally,” Grassley says. “Why don’t they go back to their country and go to our embassies and try to enter our country legally?” Grassley says he wouldn’t want anyone who’s already in the U.S. legally to be “displaced,” but he believes there’s plenty of room — and opportunity — here for these migrants, should they choose to enter legally.

“With our birth rate down the way it is and with seven-million jobs that we have vacant that we can’t find workers for, we could obviously use workers,” Grassley says. “We need them because we need people paying into the Social Security system and Medicare. More taxpayers is what we need.”

The troops are being deployed to three main staging areas in Texas, California and Mexico for what’s being called Operation Faithful Patriot. The armed troops include medical personnel, aviation units and engineering battalions, with one report saying they’re hauling 22 miles worth of barbed wire.