President Trump will announce on Tuesday, according to reports, that active duty troops are going to be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border in order to “protect” Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel from refugees who are mostly escaping violence and poverty in Central America and seek asylum.
“It is expected the Pentagon and U.S. Northern Command will amend the current document detailing the rules governing the ‘use of force’ on the border mission,” according to a CNN report.
Roughly 5,900 troops at the southern border currently cannot act in self-defense. They do not have the authority to intervene in issues regarding CBP personnel.
According to DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti, “It’s obvious that the president did not understand posse comitatus when he made his political grandstanding move. Our military may not perform military duties within our borders. Any good 12th grade student knows that.”
Harry Litman, who teaches constitutional law at the University of California at San Diego, also said that Trump sending thousands of military personnel to the southern border to help turn back refugees violates the Posse Comitatus Act.
“The law was passed in 1878, following widespread, heavy-handed use of Union troops to exercise typical law enforcement functions in the former Confederate states,” Litman wrote in a column for The Washington Post.
“In its current form, it provides criminal penalties for anyone who ‘willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus’ — that is, as an auxiliary of law enforcement — ‘or otherwise to execute the laws.'”
Litman added, “the Posse Comitatus Act enshrines the bedrock democratic idea that civil society is separate from and superior to military force, and that regulation of citizens by military is antithetical to liberty.”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not yet confirmed the expected announcement from the White House, but spokesperson Kate Waldman stated:
“We will not allow our frontline personnel to be in harm’s way. We will do everything we can to protect those who defend our nation’s sovereignty and secure our border. We appreciate the Department of Defense stepping in to assist the Department of Homeland Security as needed.”
In recent days, more than 2,000 refugees have arrived in the border city of Tijuana. Apparently, immigration officials were notified on Monday that refugees planned to “rush” the border. The U.S. port of entry across from Tijuana in San Ysidro, Calif., was closed for three hours.
That turned out to be a false alarm.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon selected thousands of active-duty forces to deploy to the border instead of sending additional National Guard.
“We determined that the units that were selected to fulfill this mission were the right units with the right capabilities that we could rapidly deploy in position in order to assist DHS,” Department of Defense spokesman Col. Rob Manning said, according to The Military Times.
If National Guard forces had been selected, state governors would have had to approve their deployment.
Allegedly, the active-duty forces will not interact with refugees.
“There is no plan for DOD personnel to interact with migrants or protesters,” Manning said. “We are absolutely in support of [Customs and Border Patrol].”