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2020 Democrats challenge Trump’s use of troops at Mexico border

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A group of likely Democratic presidential candidates on Tuesday challenged the Trump administration over its deployment of 5,800 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border shortly before the midterm elections. 

In a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, a group of 2020 Democratic hopefuls, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), wrote they were “deeply disturbed by the overt politicization of the military.” 

They argued the deployment of troops along the border to intercept a caravan of migrants from Central America was not justified by national security concerns. They charged that it was really designed to bolster President Trump’s campaign message on illegal immigration. 

{mosads}“The politically-motivated mission misuses active duty servicemembers and wastes Department of Defense (DOD) resources, both of which could compromise military readiness in the face of a true national security threat and heighten the risk of a confrontation between asylum-seekers and armed servicemembers,” they wrote.

The lawmakers called for a briefing and written justification from the U.S. Northern Command for the deployment of troops along the border and urged Mattis to otherwise “curb the unprecedented escalation of DOD involvement in immigration enforcement.” 

The senators criticized Northern Command for issuing what they called an “inflammatory” order days before the elections that “exaggerated the migrant threat.

The order warned the security of the nation was “imperiled by a drastic surge of illegal drugs [and] dangerous gang activity.”

The Democrats say the late-October order contradicted another intelligence assessment that predicted the number of migrants in the caravan was likely to decrease and found the group was not likely infiltrated by terrorists or criminal gangs. 

Senate Democrats say that active-duty troops didn’t need to be deployed to the border because National Guard units were already stationed in the area. They argued that the combined number of U.S. troops on the border was greater than the number of migrants expected to arrive. 

“Our concerns about this seemingly disproportionate military response to the migrant caravan are amplified by the obvious political agenda at play. Both the deployment timing and mission name reveal a blatant partisan ploy,” they wrote. 

Trump crisscrossed the country in the week before Election Day warning of the threat posed by the caravan as he bashed Democrats for being weak on border security.

The senators urged Mattis “to protect the apolitical, non-partisan nature of the U.S. Armed Forces” and gave him a deadline of Dec. 6 to provide a briefing justifying the deployment. 

The other signatories to Tuesday’s letter include Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who are also considering presidential bids in 2020. 

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also signed the letter. 

Booker and Merkley are also member of the Foreign Relations panel. 

Tags 2020 presidential primary Ben Cardin Bernie Sanders Bob Menendez Border Chris Van Hollen Cory Booker Donald Trump Ed Markey Immigration James Mattis Jeff Merkley Kirsten Gillibrand Mexico Ron Wyden Sherrod Brown

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