Nielsen asks Cabinet departments to send civilian police to US-Mexico border

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Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen has reportedly submitted a request to several other Cabinet departments for them to deploy civilian law enforcement officers to the southern border as early as next week.

According to an internal memo first reported by Politico, the officers would assist Border Patrol agents in handling “migrant caravans originating from Central America.”

{mosads}“Consistent with the President’s direction to do all within our authority to secure U.S. borders, I am seeking your assistance and ask you to prioritize efforts to help us prevent illegal entry into the United States,” Nielsen wrote.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told The Hill that it has reached out to “partners across the federal government to defend our sovereignty, protect our frontline men and women, and secure our border.”

“The President has made it clear that border security is a top administration priority. In line with the President’s direction and given the very real threat we face at the border from potential mass migration actions — of course, DHS has reached out for assistance from partners across the federal government to defend our sovereignty, protect our frontline men and women, and secure our border. We appreciate all of the support we have received to date,” DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman said in a statement.

Most federal agencies employ special agents who are fully authorized law enforcement officers and can enforce federal law. 

A senior DHS official confirmed to Politico that the department is actively “working with” other departments named in the memo to discuss what law enforcement resources are available. The memo was reportedly sent to the departments of State, Labor, Energy, Transportation, Interior and Justice. 

The memo also comes as Nielsen works to keep her job amid reports that President Trump has told aides he has considered replacing her as part of a major staff shake-up involving his senior staff and Cabinet. Trump has long voiced frustration with Nielsen over a perceived lack of progress on immigration and border enforcement.

The unusual request for law enforcement officers from other departments is just the latest action the Trump administration has taken as part of its hard-line stance against a group of thousands of Central American migrants traveling toward the U.S.-Mexico border, many seeking asylum from violence in their home countries.

Trump has already deployed thousands of U.S. service members to the border and threatened to close the border if immigration gets “uncontrollable.”

“If we find that it gets to a level where we’re going to lose control or people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control,” he said last week.

Military service members are prohibited by law from participating in searches or making arrests, obstacles that would not hinder civilian law enforcement.

The crisis at the border has become increasingly volatile in recent days after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents fired tear gas at a group of migrants it said were trying to cross the border illegally and assault the agents.

“They had to use because they were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas. And here’s the bottom line: Nobody’s coming into our country unless they come in legally,” Trump told reporters Monday regarding the tear gas.

The White House also recently implemented a new policy that forced migrants to remain in Mexico as their asylum claims are filed, reversing the old rule that allowed them to wait in the U.S. while their requests were processed. 

The president has framed the crisis as one of national security, claiming, without evidence, that the group is comprised of several gang members.

“Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” Trump tweeted in October.

Updated at 4:32 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Kirstjen Nielsen

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