The Pentagon rejected Trump’s request to illegally use US troops as law enforcement officers along the southern border.
According to two defense official familiar with the request, the Department of Homeland Security asked that the Pentagon provide a reserve force that could be called upon to provide “crowd and traffic control” and safeguard Customs and Border Protection personnel at the border to counter a group of Central American migrants walking to the US border to request asylum.
The Pentagon rejected the request on October 26, according to one of the officials, even as it signed off on providing DHS with air and logistics support, medical personnel and engineers. The request was turned down because the Department of Defense felt that active duty troops do not have the authority to conduct that type of mission unless they are granted additional authorities by the President. Defense officials have repeatedly emphasized the troops at the border are there to support civil authorities and that they are not expected to come into any contact with migrants.
US Troops Are Only Allowed To Act As Domestic Law Enforcement In Times Of Crisis
By law, US troops are forbidden to act as law enforcement officers on US soil, unless it is a national crisis. Trump has been trying to play up the migrant caravan as a national crisis, which is why he has described impoverished women and children moving on foot as an invasion.
Trump was trying to break the law to scare the American people and whip Republican voters into a frenzy before the midterm election. There is no national crisis. There is no reason for the troops to be deployed to the border. The deployment will cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and the troops will only be able to serve immigration officials in a support role.
The Pentagon stopped Trump from taking an illegal action that would have smashed the civilian/military law enforcement line in the United States. It is very ominous and authoritarian for Trump to seek this level of power.
Election Day can’t come soon enough as the basic underpinnings of our democracy are under assault from Trump.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association