Pentagon Denies Second White House Request Involving Military Tasks at Border

Published on November 5, 2018 by Athena Pallas

For the second time, the Pentagon has denied a White House request to have military forces at the southern border perform duties that are not within their purview. This latest request from the White House was to allow the military to be used to build detention facilities for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, a request which the Pentagon rejected. The first rejected request from the White House was to allow the military to perform emergency law enforcement duties. However, the military is not allowed to perform law enforcement duties within U.S. borders “except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress”, as stipulated in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.

Of course there had been no such act of Congress to allow the military to perform law enforcement duties at the southern border, so Trump’s White House was once again trying to overstep its authority and go around the requirement of Congressional approval. At least the Pentagon did not acquiesce to either request, marking a clear disconnect between the White House and the Pentagon. According to The Hill:

The Pentagon denied a White House request to allow the U.S. military to build facilities to house detained migrants at the U.S-Mexico border, Reuters reported Monday. U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the Defense Department rejected the preliminary request, which would have been part of its new mission on the southern border. The Pentagon also, late last month, declined a request from the Trump administration to allow troops to perform emergency law enforcement tasks along the border weeks ahead of the arrival of thousands of migrants preparing to apply for asylum in the U.S…The Pentagon rejected the request on Oct. 26 as the department felt that the tasks fell outside active duty soldiers’ authority. The two rejected requests highlight the disconnect between the White House and the Pentagon over the use of military resources to bolster border security.

Many see President Trump’s dire predictions about what he calls a caravan of migrants headed toward the U.S. border as politically motivated, a cynical effort to intensify fears and racist sentiments, that also involves a waste of resources. Notable among those wasted resources are the active duty troops Trump has sent to the border, which originally as of last week were to number 5,200, before being increased to 7,000, with Trump further indicating he may send as many as 15,000 active duty troops in total, to join the 2,100 National Guard troops already there. The timing of that troop deployment, just a week before the midterm elections, was also viewed by many as suspicious, since the caravan of migrants was last week still some 900 miles from the border and they are walking, so they were and are still months away from actually reaching the border.

Trump continues to try to appeal to the worst side of human nature, to fuel fear, hatred and prejudice. There is of course much more to human nature, much better about human nature, like compassion, empathy, and tolerance. Election day is now just one day away – we can make our voices heard. Let’s not let inconvenience, or the rain, or long lines, stand in the way of voting. Early voting is showing great voter turnout in many places. Let’s make sure to keep that trend going for election day itself.

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Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.