Current immigration policy mandates that border troops are not permitted to interact with migrants. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, however, is expected to ease those restrictions. He will approve about 300 waivers for troops at the border, including cooks, drivers and lawyers who will now be allowed to come into contact with the migrants.
“We will have some of our troops handing out meals, therefore we would come in contact with migrants,” Pentagon spokesman Charlie Summers explained.
Department of Defense lawyers, meanwhile, would help process immigrants' papers.
The 300 troops will be a welcome addition for border patrol agents, who are "overwhelmed" by the number of migrants, Summers explained.
The Posse Comitatus Act, signed in 1878, prohibits military from engaging in domestic law enforcement activity. As such, these troops would be accompanied by law enforcement personnel as they perform their support roles.
There are currently about 2,900 active-duty troops at the border, and about 2,000 National Guard troops.