Bennie Thompson and Elijah Cummings Want Answers on Trump’s Deployment of Troops to the Border
Thousands of U.S. troops are being deployed to the Southern border on the orders of Donald Trump. They will be joined by gun-toting civilians and border vigilantes. When Central American migrants seeking asylum arrive at the border weeks from now, who will play what role remains unclear. Yet the mere prospect of armed vigilantes showing up beside thousands of troops, Border Patrol agents, police officers, and migrants are considered serious enough that the military has serious concerns. Enter Congressmen Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member on the Homeland Security Committee, and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member on the Oversight & Government Reform Committee. The pair was joined by House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in leading a letter with 104 other House Democrats calling on Defense Secretary James Mattis to provide answers about the deployment of 5,200 additional active duty troops. The members want to know how much the deployment will cost, how long the deployment will last, and what the rules of engagement will be. “This effort is nothing short of a militarization of the southern border to score political points and stoke misleading fears among Americans regarding immigrants,” they wrote. “The President has exploited the caravan of people traveling to the U.S. to seek asylum for his own political gain, and he continues to politicize and militarize this humanitarian crisis as these men, women, and children are fleeing violence and persecution in an unstable part of the world. This is another example of the president using fear-mongering tactics over a humanitarian issue. This use of military personnel and resources for functions outside of core mission areas warrants additional Congressional oversight.” They also requested a briefing on the deployment. The Pentagon originally rejected Trump’s request for troops because the Department of Defense felt that active duty troops do not have the authority to conduct missions viewed as law enforcement functions. But it signed off on providing Homeland Security with air and logistics support, medical personnel, and engineers. The Pentagon has yet to determine the cost of the operation, nor has it identified the account from where the funding would come. Read the full letter from lawmakers here.