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Professor William C. Banks to Vox: Southern Deployment Legal, But Is the Wall?

Posted on Friday 6/26/2020
William C. Banks

The US military will stay on the US-Mexico border, even with migration falling

(Vox | June 25, 2020) The Pentagon will officially keep as many as 4,000 troops at the US-Mexico border in October — ensuring President Donald Trump’s military deployment continues throughout the election season despite no signs of an actual crisis.

In a Thursday statement, Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Defense Department spokesperson, said Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the Department of Homeland Security’s request for assistance at the border. Most military backup will come from the National Guard, he noted, which will help monitor the frontier, provide logistics, and offer transport to Border Patrol personnel. Troops can’t engage in law enforcement activities.

In a follow-up comment to Vox as to why such a decision was made months in advance, Mitchell said, “The current mission is set to expire at the end of September. This is just an extension of the mission through the next fiscal year.” The new authorized number of troops would actually be a decrease from the 5,500 military personnel currently at the border ...

... William Banks, an expert on national security law at Syracuse University, told Vox that such a deployment, like the previous ones, is clearly legal. But, he added, “I continue to question whether the wall construction itself is lawful,” noting that multiple lawsuits proceed.

All this sounds well and good, but the issue is that what was supposed to be a temporary backfill at the border has now become a perpetual solution, and it’s not clear the military is even needed at the Mexico frontier anymore ...

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