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The Trump administration plans to grant U.S. troops on the Mexican border the authority to use force to help protect Border Patrol officers, defense officials said Tuesday, a significant widening of a mission already criticized as politically motivated rather than a national security priority.
President Trump is expected a sign an executive order giving armed troops the authority to intervene if U.S. personnel are endangered by migrants trying to cross the border, the officials said. The order doesn’t rule out use of deadly force.
The order could face legal challenges to determine if it violates a U.S. law that bars active duty military from conducting domestic law enforcement functions. The Posse Comitatus Act, first passed in 1878 and amended several times, is intended to limit the government’s ability to use military personnel within the United States except in natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other national emergencies.
Roughly 5,900 active duty soldiers and Marines were sent to border posts in California, Texas and Arizona shortly before the Nov. 6 election in one of the largest such deployments in decades. Most of the troops are unarmed and restricted from interacting with migrants, and critics — including some former senior military officers — condemned the operation as using active duty troops for partisan gain.
Trump’s expected expansion of their role is likely to deepen questions into whether he is trampling longstanding practices on the legal use of the military on U.S. soil, and raises the risk that a confrontation with unarmed migrants could escalate into deadly violence.
It also could lengthen the time at least some of those troops must spend away from home. Commanders previously have said they plan to withdraw all troops by Dec. 15 unless an extension is ordered. After news reports suggested that some troops could be withdrawn this week, the Pentagon pushed back and said some may be transferred to other border posts.
I have tears in my eyes, sad and mad both at how low we as a country have sunk with this horrible, deplorable despot in the White House.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
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