Saturday, November 3, 2018

Military on our Southern Border

President Trump's orders to deploy troops to the souther border raises not just policy questions, but historical legal questions.  It is not surprising that this is not the first time a sitting president needed to militarize the Mexican border.  So it is also not surprising that there is a strong U.S. legal history defining the military's role in civilian affairs.  The following information come from the Military Times:

The Posse Comitatus Act
All active duty forces dispatched to the border are governed by the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids troops from carrying out law enforcement duties inside United States territory unless Congress grants an exemption.
Under the act, federal military forces are prohibited from engaging in direct law enforcement, which includes making arrests, conducting searches, seizures, apprehension, evidence collection, interrogations, security patrols, seizures, stop and frisks, surveillance, crowd and traffic control, enforcement of a quarantine or isolation, or other similar police functions.
Congress has amended that act some to increase the authorized level of support the military may provide for drug interdiction and to support border patrol.
According to the Congressional Research Service, under the extended support, the military may provide "assistance in maintenance or upgrade of equipment; transportation of personnel; establishment and operation of operations or training bases; training of law enforcement personnel; detecting and monitoring traffic within 25 miles of the border; road and fence construction; light installation along smuggling corridors; the establishment of command and control centers and computer networks; the provision of linguist and intelligence analysis services; and aerial and ground reconnaissance.”

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