El Paso County has suffered an economic injury because of border wall construction and the suspension of a multi-million dollar project at Fort Bliss, the lawyer for the county and a co-plaintiff argued before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A House spending bill for military construction would block funding from going to President Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. It would also prohibit funding for projects that were delayed because Trump declared a national emergency and dipped into military construction for the wall.
The Pentagon confirms that the Defense Department intends to keep as many as 4,000 troops at the U.S.-Mexico border through October despite no signs of an actual crisis. Most military backup will come from the Nationa Guard, which cannot engage in law enforcement activities but will help monitor the frontier, provide logistics, and offer transport to CBP personnel. There are currently approximately 5,500 troops deployed to the border.
U.S. defense officials state that the Pentagon is actively considering reducing the number of troops at the southern border by September and replacing them with members of the National Guard. This would bring the deployment in line with previous military operations at the border by the Bush and Obama administrations. There are approximately 5,000 active duty troops deployed to the border.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, in a memo to acting Pentagon Comptroller Elain McCusker, directs McCusker to “release funding associated with 22 currently deferred projects within the United States” totaling over $500 million to “enable the execution” of border wall construction. To fill the hole left by restoring the funds, Esper substitutes overseas projects appropriated by Congress, including $274 million worth of military construction projects in Europe intended to deter Russia.
The Associated Press reports that the Trump administration has added 60 surveillance cameras at the southern border throughout the pandemic, though fewer people are crossing the border. A spokesman for CBP states that the cameras are manned by the military and will be removed after the pandemic.
AP News and the Dallas Morning Newsreport on the rural town of Columbus, New Mexico. The town, with a population of less than 1,500, faces an influx of border wall workers living in tightly packed trailers and filling local hotels. A report from the Southern Border Communities Coalition cites similar concerns, with border town residents fearing that deployed troops and construction workers and their non-compliance with local stay at home orders will cause an outbreak that will very quickly overwhelm local healthcare resources.
President Trump announces the launch of “enhanced counter-narcotics operations” by the military with increased “surveillance, seizures of drug shipment…and additional support.” Domestic military intelligence collection is an extremely controversial topic for the Department of Defense, which requires the National Guard to identify “intelligence” as “Incident Awareness and Assessment” (IAA) to avoid legal challenges.
The Department of Defense officially approves sending 540 additional military troops to the United States’ border to assist CBP during the coronavirus pandemic. Like the approximate 5,000 troops already deployed, they are not to assist in law enforcement duties but to “increase CBP’s situational awareness [to] better mitigate risks of the coronavirus pandemic.” After backlash from Canadian officials, the Trump administration’s plans to send troops to the northern border were halted.
Two U.S. officials tell NPR that the Pentagon is expected to send 1,500 additional troops to the nation’s borders with Canada and Mexico to further assist CBP in combating the coronavirus. Roughly 540 military personnel will be sent to the Mexican border. This brings the total military presence at the border to approximately 5,000 troops.
The Pentagon announces they have “no plans to pull units off the border for coronavirus response.” The troops mainly perform services to support CBP because federal law prohibits the U.S. military from domestic law enforcement activities. Reports of some troops’ duties — including, at one point, painting a border barrier “to improve the aesthetic appearance of the wall” — have led to criticism from lawmakers and former officials that the military is being used for the president’s political agenda. The Pentagon’s mission has cost over $500 million so far and nearly 3,000 National Guard troops remain at the border.
The ACLU’s National Security Project and Border Rights Center send a letter to the Secretary of Defense demanding that the administration publicly release the directives and guidance issued to troops at the border about their roles and duties, which should not include law enforcement activities. The administration initially justified the deployment of the additional 160 troops earlier this month in anticipation of a Supreme Court decision on the Remain in Mexico policy. While the Supreme Court has now allowed the policy to proceed, the troops remain at the border.
The 160 soldiers ordered to the border as the ‘Crisis Response Force’ arrive from Fort Polk, Louisiana. They will be providing temporary police, engineering, and aviation support to CBP at the Paso del Norte port of entry in Texas and the San Ysidro port of entry in California. With up to 150 individuals in Ciudad Juarez, groups of asylum seekers with their lawyers waited peacefully in Mexico at ports of entry for CBP to comply with the ruling expected from the Supreme Court on the legality of the Remain in Mexico policy.
Senior CBP officials announce they are sending 80 soldiers to El Paso, Texas, and 80 to San Diego, California, in response to the recent court ruling preventing the government from enforcing the Remain in Mexico program after March 11. While sent to provide support to officers at official ports of entry, these 160 soldiers are not expected to conduct immigration processing or enforcement.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist visits McAllen, Texas, for a first-hand visit to the border. Norquist manages the U.S. Defense budget and emphasized that “border security is national security,” during his speeches to National Guard troops and CBP agents. He also visited several sections of the wall in the Rio Grande Valley.
The U.S. Army will transfer three Black Hawk helicopters to the El Paso Air Branch of CBP’s Office of Air and Marine. They will replace older UH-1N Huey helicopters that are being retired and sold. The Army typically uses Black Hawks for medical evacuations and air assault operations.