Trump Announces Plan to Send Military to the Border
By Heather Ham-Warren | November 2, 2018
For the past several weeks, all eyes have been on the U.S.-Mexico border as thousands of economic migrants make their way to the United States to claim asylum. With lawmakers out of town on the campaign trail, there is no chance of immediate legislative assistance. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) previously requested additional military personnel be deployed to the border, and on Monday the Pentagon announced that at least 5,200 soldiers were being sent down as part of the newly launched Operation Secure Line.
“As far as the caravan is concerned, our military is out. We have about 5,000—we’ll go up to anywhere between 10 and 15,000 military personnel on top of Border Patrol, [Immigration and Customs Enforcement], and everybody else at the border,” the president told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “Nobody is coming in. We’re not allowing people to come in.”
It is, undoubtedly, the role of the federal government to prevent the entry of terrorists, secure our national borders, and carry out immigration enforcement functions. Generally speaking, the military does not have primary jurisdiction in these matters. However, there is precedent for presidents utilizing military support in border regions when necessary.
In 2006, President George W. Bush deployed 6,000 National Guard troops to the southern border including to locations in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The activity, referred to as Operation Jump Start, led to 186,814 illegal alien apprehensions and over 300,000 pounds of marijuana seized. Similarly, in 2010, President Barack Obama initiated Operation Phalanx, which deployed up to 1,200 troops and resulted in the apprehension of over 17,000 illegal aliens and over 56,000 pounds of marijuana. Additionally, President Trump similarly deployed troops to the border earlier this year in response to a spike in border crossings.
Due to restrictions in place since enactment of the Posse Comitatus Act, (which prohibits use of the Armed Forces to perform the tasks of civilian law enforcement unless explicitly authorized by Congress) it is likely that the deployed guardsmen will act in a strictly supportive role. As such, the Department of Defense will be helping with tasks such as engineering barriers and fencing, constructing tents for additional detention space, transporting Border Patrol personnel, working with medical teams, and providing equipment and temporary housing to Border Patrol agents. Theoretically, having the additional support will allow immigration officials time for more substantive activities, including the apprehension of those who cross the border illegally.