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Do You Want Congress to Authorize the Military to Police the Border?

by Countable | 11.1.18

What’s the story?

  • President Donald Trump announced up to 15,000 troops could be sent to the southern border to combat a caravan of Honduran migrants and asylum seekers trekking to the U.S. through Mexico.
  • The military personnel dispatched as part of “Operation Faithful Patriot” can only provide logistical support to Customs and Border Protection: a law from the 1870s prohibits the use of active-duty service members for law enforcement within the U.S.—unless they are specifically authorized by Congress.
  • Should Congress authorize the military to perform law enforcement duties at the border?

What's this 1870s law?

  • The Posse Comitatus Act, passed after the Civil War, makes it illegal for the armed forces to be used to uphold domestic laws.
"Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

What are the troops currently allowed to do?

  • Officials have told various media outlets that the troops will assist Border Patrol with tents, equipment, and medical support.
  • On Monday, Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said the armed services is planning to send 5,200 personnel, three helicopters, several military planes, and more than 150 miles of razor wire to border locations.
  • Regarding military personnel involved in “Operation Faithful Patriot,” Gen. O’Shaughnessy said:
“Everything we are doing is in line with and adherence to posse comitatus.”

What do you think?

Should Congress authorize the use of active-duty service members to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman


(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / vichinterlang)

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