In a move that should calm nerves north of the border, Defense Secretary James Mattis is planning to order as many as 800 soldiers to the Mexican border in advance of a large migrant caravan moving up from Honduras. The announcement of the deployment was in anticipation of a Request For Assistance (RFA) from the Department of Homeland Security.
CNN reports that the troops are not expected to come into contact with the migrants but are being deployed to assist civil authorities. The active-duty soldiers are expected to provide fencing, wall materials, and technical support to the Border Patrol and Customs and will join about 2,100 National Guard troops deployed to the border last spring.
President Trump has said on Twitter that the migrant caravan constitutes a “national emergy” [sic] and has called on the military to stop the caravan. A previous caravan last spring stopped short of the US border [DT1] in Tijuana where the few migrants who completed the journey waited to apply for asylum in accordance with US law.
Federal law prohibits the routine use of the national military for domestic law enforcement purposes under the Posse Comitatus Act. The 1878 law specifically applies to the army, but the National Guard is under state control. Civil Disturbance Statutes do permit the president to use the military to suppress rebellions, insurrections, domestic violence or unlawful conspiracies.
At present, the caravan is still near the extreme southern tip of Mexico, more than a thousand miles away from the US border. CNN reports the group averages about 20-30 miles per day, traveling mostly on foot, but sometimes hitching rides on passing vehicles. At the current rate, the group is still more than a month away from the US border.
Originally published on The Resurgent