One week ago Mr. Trump declared a national emergency in order to obtain funding for a border wall. This was after he signed a bill passed by Congress to avoid another shutdown.
Now, another week later, it was announced that the Pentagon is sending 1,000 more troops to the Mexican border. According to The Washington Post:
‘The Pentagon will increase the number of troops along the U.S.-Mexico border to about 6,000 by the start of next month as the Trump administration turns its attention to securing remote areas between official ports of entry, a senior U.S. defense official said Friday.’
The 1,000 additional troops will will be deployed with orders to string more concertina wire and install detection systems.
One official from the Pentagon who spoke anonymously reported that so far, military forces had installed 70 miles of concertina wire, reinforced ports of entry, provided medical support to migrants and helped transport Customs and Border Protection agents by aircraft.
The senior defense official said:
‘That mission has evolved. We are now transitioning to supporting [areas] between the ports of entry. We’re laying down another 140 miles of concertina wire — we’re about 30 percent done with that — as well as providing a ground-based detection and monitoring mission in support of CBP.’
The Post reported:
‘The new influx of troops comes as Trump prepares to take $6.1 billion from the Pentagon budget, without authorization from Congress, to fund construction of a border wall. He is using a combination of emergency powers and counterdrug authorities to do so.’
The Pentagon said that 6,000 troops will be at the border by March 1, which includes about 2,100 National Guard personnel. The Trump administration has said that the guardsmen will be there to help relieve strain on Customs and Border Patrol due to a large number of Central American families crossing the border.
The governors of California and New Mexico both ordered withdrawal of most of the guardsmen from the border in their states. They know that there is no actual emergency at the border and have decided not to fuel Trump’s grand political stunt.
On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that lawmakers plan to vote Tuesday on a measure rejecting Trump’s national emergency declaration. Democrats are likely to have some Republican support in both the House and the Senate.
It has been a question as to whether the Department of Defense will move forward to appropriate funds for the border wall without congressional approval.
According to The Press Herald:
‘The efforts to tap the Pentagon’s budget under emergency powers essentially amount to an end-run around Congress, which traditionally holds the power of the purse in Washington and so far has refused to appropriate the amount of money Trump wants for the wall.’
For weeks, Pentagon officials have been going through the books to figure out which projects should be discarded or frozen to pay for the wall, should Mr. Trump tap military funds.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said in a statement:
‘It is clear that there is no national emergency – only a manufactured crisis – and there has been no attempt to explain how the wall has anything to do with supporting U.S. military needs, as the law intends. From the beginning, President Trump’s obsession over a border wall has been based on misguided anti-immigrant fervor, not U.S. national security.’
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