Trump to deploy 160 troops to border following court rulings
The Trump administration will deploy 160 active-duty soldiers to two cities adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Friday said it would deploy 80 active-duty soldiers to San Diego’s San Ysidro border and 80 troops to El Paso’s Paso del Norte bridge as soon as Saturday to aid customs officials at entry points, according to USA Today.
The decision comes as the administration requests that the Supreme Court uphold the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or “Remain in Mexico” policy, after a federal district court in California ruled against the plan last April, saying it violates international human rights norms and U.S. immigration law, The Hill previously reported.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit supported the lower court’s ruling on Feb. 28 and narrowed the order to apply to California and Arizona and to go into effect March 12.
The border agency announced that the ruling from the 9th Circuit guided the decision to send soldiers to the two border ports to provide “military police support, engineer, and aviation support.”
Large numbers of asylum-seekers sent back under the MPP met at the border near Brownsville, Texas, on Feb. 28 to request reentry to the U.S.
CBP temporarily shut down at least one border crossing in El Paso to prevent migrants from rushing into the port of entry.
“CBP Ports of Entry (POEs) are not designed or equipped to handle extremely large groups of travelers arriving all at the same time, and temporary closure of a POE is contemplated as an extreme option, as necessary for public safety and border security,” the agency said in a written statement.
“Compounded in response to Friday’s (Feb. 28) amassment of large groups in Mexico with the potential to forcibly enter the United States, CBP closed or partially suspended operations at multiple locations in order to maintain safety and security,” the statement said.
In the administration’s defense of the policy on Friday, it cited the effectiveness of the MPP using Department of Homeland Security figures of more than 60,000 asylum-seekers who have been blocked from entry since the MPP’s implementation more than a year ago, according to a previous report.
CBP also considered the U.S. government’s “COVID-19 containment and mitigation concerns” in the decision to deploy the military troops.
Local officials maintained mixed opinions about the policy, claiming troops are not what the southern border needs at this time.
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas.) said in a written statement that the administration is using the coronavirus as “an excuse to sow fear about asylum seekers in an effort to continue to violate the law,” USA Today reported.
“It is because we are all concerned about the coronavirus that we need to focus our resources on our real challenges, like the limited number of tests available, something that troops on the border won’t address,” Escobar said.
Dylan Corbett, the founder and director of Hope Border Institute — a binational advocacy group in the El Paso-Juárez region — also voiced concerns about the measure.
“There’s always a liability and risk when you send military to the border, knowing that you are sending them for a mission that they have not been trained,” he said.