The Trump administration will allow U.S. troops on the Southern border to use force if necessary to help protect Border Patrol officers if their safety is endangered by migrants.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said, however, that the military’s mission at the border had not changed.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly signed the order, which says military personnel may use “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention and cursory search” to protect Customs and Border Protection personnel.
“It is not an unreasonable concern on the part of the president that we may have to back up Border Patrol,” Mattis said, referring to incidents between caravan migrants and Mexican authorities earlier this year.
White House gives troops deployed to Mexican border new authority for "use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention. and cursory search.” https://t.co/aA19aza0Vo pic.twitter.com/RWoSVR23v7— Military Times (@MilitaryTimes) November 21, 2018
But he said he had not altered the orders of the approximately 5,800 active-duty troops arrayed across the southern border, most of whom are not armed and have been performing functions such as stringing concertina wire, building barriers and transporting Border Patrol agents. …
Critics have raised questions about the need to use active-duty troops for a mission already involving Border Patrol agents and National Guard personnel, citing concerns the deployment could violate the Posse Comitatus Act, a law limiting military activities within the United States. (Washington Post)
Mattis said troops would not be serving in a law enforcement role.
“We are not doing law enforcement. We do not have arrest authority,” Mattis said.