Home­land Se­cu­rity asks for longer stay

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - News - BY NICK MIROFF

The Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity asked the Pen­tagon Fri­day for a 45-day ex­ten­sion of the U.S. mil­i­tary pres­ence at the Mex­ico bor­der, a re­quest that would stretch the de­ploy­ment un­til at least the end of Jan­uary.

The De­fense Depart­ment is ex­pected to agree to the ex­ten­sion in the com­ing days, well ahead of the mis­sion’s cur­rent ex­pi­ra­tion date, which is Dec. 15. Pen­tagon of­fi­cials have said that some of the 6,000 ac­tive-duty mil­i­tary per­son­nel sta­tioned along the bor­der in Texas, Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia would be brought home and re­placed by other units.

The troops were sent to the bor­der by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ahead of the ar­rival of thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants trav­el­ing in car­a­van groups and seek­ing to en­ter the United States.

“Given the on­go­ing threat at our South­ern bor­der – to­day the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity sub­mit­ted a re­quest for as­sis­tance to the Depart­ment of De­fense to ex­tend its sup­port through Jan­uary 31, 2019,” DHS spokes­woman Katie Wald­man said in a state­ment. “This re­quest re­fines sup­port to en­sure it re­mains aligned with the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, the na­ture of the mis­sion, and [Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion] op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments.”

A Pen­tagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Jaime Davis, con­firmed the re­quest. In a state­ment, Davis said it “re­fines sup­port to en­sure it re­mains aligned with the cur­rent threat, the na­ture of the mis­sion, and CBP op­er­a­tional re­quire­ments.”

Trump is the first pres­i­dent in a nearly a cen­tury to use large num­bers of ac­tive-duty mil­i­tary per­son­nel at the bor­der, as pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions have typ­i­cally called upon Na­tional Guard units to back up U.S. agents dur­ing mo­ments of height­ened threats or surg­ing mi­gra­tion.

Crit­ics of the ad­min­is­tra­tion say the bor­der as­sign­ment risks un­der­min­ing the mil­i­tary’s readi­ness for more-im­por­tant mis­sions abroad and that Na­tional Guard troops would be much more ap­pro­pri­ate for a do­mes­tic mis­sion in sup­port of fed­eral law en­force­ment.

U.S. law gen­er­ally pro­hibits soldiers from per­form­ing law en­force­ment du­ties on Amer­i­can soil, and the troops sta­tioned there now are sup­posed to sup­port U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, not make ar­rests or de­tain mi­grants.

Af­ter clashes along the bor­der fence Sun­day, DHS of­fi­cials saw vin­di­ca­tion of Trump’s de­ci­sion to call out the mil­i­tary in the scenes of mi­grants throw­ing rocks and at­tempt­ing to force their way into the United States.

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