By Wesley Morgan
The Pentagon will deploy helicopters, engineers and medical personnel to the border with Mexico in response to President Donald Trump’s request for more troops to help crack down on illegal immigration, the Pentagon announced Friday.
In a statement, the Pentagon did not specify how many additional forces would be dispatched beyond the 2,100 National Guard troops that arrived earlier this year. News reports earlier in the week suggested the new contingent would include 800 troops.
But the additional forces will similarly carry out support missions that are designed to enhance overall border security and free up law enforcement personnel for patrols — and they will not actively participate in interdicting migrants.
“The secretary of Defense has approved providing mission-enhancing capabilities to the Department of Homeland Security,” the Pentagon said in its statement. “This assistance is in addition to the previously authorized support.”
That refers to the 2,100 National Guard troops who have been supporting U.S. Customs and Border Protection since April, out of a total of 4,000 that were authorized.
Today’s announcement comes after Trump has repeatedly warned he will call on the military to deal with what he has called a “”national emergency.”
But the new military commitment, as in previous instances, will be a limited mission. Active-duty military personnel are prohibited by federal law from performing purely law enforcement functions.
The helicopters will be used to transport customs and border personnel, engineers will construct barriers, barricades, fencing, and temporary housing for personnel, while medical teams will treat patients.
“U.S. Northern Command will be in the lead for the duration of the operation and is in support of Custom and Border Protection,” the Pentagon said.
This article was originally published by Publico, and can be found here: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/10/26/pentagon-troops-mexican-border-immigration-943152