Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the presumed incoming chairman for the House Armed Services Committee, voiced his extreme displeasure after the Department of Defense extended the deployment of active-duty service members on the U.S.-Mexico border. They will stay at the border until January 31.
The Department of Homeland Security requested the extension due to the “ongoing threat” of large, and sometimes violent, migrant caravans.
“I continue to strongly question the deployment of U.S. military service members at our southern border. Furthermore, the decision to extend this deployment to the end of January 2019 is not a responsible use of Department of Defense resources and is the completely wrong approach to the situation,” Smith said in a press release.
According to Smith, there has not been “adequate justification for the use of our military personnel in this way”:
The President’s dangerous rhetoric referring to people seeking asylum as an ‘invasion’ deeply misrepresents the situation and needlessly ramps up tension. There is no question that we face a challenge with a rise in the number of people seeking asylum. However, the response should not be deploying troops to our border, but instead increasing resources to process asylum applications, including additional judges and asylum officers.
Additionally, the continued practice of detaining asylum seekers is inhumane and the cost is overwhelming. It’s abhorrent that there are over 40,000 people in custody in detention centers across the U.S. when we know alternatives to detention are proven to be effective at ensuring compliance with immigration proceedings, and drastically less costly than detention.
“Directing military service members to ‘harden the border’ and provide vague support to Customs and Border Protection misses the point entirely,” Smith added. “These people are fleeing violence and persecution to seek asylum. They are turning themselves in, not circumventing our laws. This continued expansion of the use of Department of Defense resources and personnel to fulfill the misguided immigration agenda of this administration, which is not part of the mission of the Department of Defense, must come to an end.”
Smith’s statement comes after hundreds of migrants attempted to storm the southern border. Border patrol agents had to use tear gas to stop them and some in the caravan started to throw rocks in response.
Here’s moment right before shot bang. You can see some rocks being thrown. pic.twitter.com/p0M9p7Rx4G— WendyFry (@WendyFry_) November 25, 2018
Rodney Scott, chief patrol agent for the San Diego Sector Border Patrol, revealed they had arrested 42 migrants who had managed to illegally cross the border during the incident.