In response to a caravan of Central American migrants seeking to enter the United States through the shared border with Mexico, the Pentagon is arranging to send as many as 5,000 troops to assist border patrol agents.
While roughly 2,100 troops are already stationed from an effort to control a caravan earlier this year, originally only 800 additional troops were to be sent. Despite this, last Friday Defense Secretary Jim Mattis signed off on sending more U.S. troops to the nation’s southwestern border. Since the exact entry location of the caravan is not yet confirmed, of the supplementary increase in military presence, each border state is expected to receive a relatively equal amount of troops, with roughly 1,500 headed to California.
Following Mattis’s command, the Pentagon published a statement saying “after receiving a request for assistance from the secretary of homeland security, the secretary of defense has approved providing mission-enhancing capabilities to the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the southwest border.”
It is no secret that President Trump has been a strong advocate of sending troops to the border, however, the move has certainly not come without enormous pushback. Many critics have suggested this is a political tactic to mobilize his base before the election and that the use of military in controlling unarmed personal sets a dangerous precedent.
Today we were told by a staffer working in the San Diego Border Patrol sector that the troops’ primary roles will include tasks such as providing transportation, temporary housing, meals and overall Border Patrol support. Independently contacting or intercepting migrants while crossing the border is not something they will directly be involved with. Participating in this position, the order to send troops to the border will not violate Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the federal government from using federal military personnel to enforce domestic policies within the country.
We contacted Congressman Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) who’s district encompasses the total span of the California-Mexico border to inquire about his take on the situation, but we have not yet heard back.