Pentagon assigns 320 troops for 'babysitting' illegal immigrants so border agents can resume patrolling
The goal is to free up Border Patrol agents who are currently bogged down with such duties so they can get back to patrolling the front lines
The Pentagon announced on Monday that a Homeland Security request was approved by Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to assign 320 "personnel" to babysit illegal immigrants, drive them around, feed them, and conduct regular welfare checks on them.
It is being said that the move is intended to free up Border Patrol agents who are currently bogged down with such duties so that they can resume patrolling the front lines, the Washington Times reports.
According to Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, the troops assigned by Shanahan will not be involved in actual law enforcement. However, Homeland Security officers will be present to protect the troops and handle the actual custody of illegal immigrants.
The deployment, which will cost $7.4 million, has been approved through September 30, the end of the fiscal year.
“DoD personnel will assist in driving high-capacity CBP vehicles to transport migrants; providing administrative support, including providing heating, meal distribution and monitoring the welfare of individuals in CBP custody; and attorney support to ICE,” he said in a statement.
The surge of illegal immigrants from Central America has overwhelmed Border Patrol in recent months. Reports in NPR state how the US Border Patrol had apprehended over 66,000 migrants at the Southern border in February and the majority of them were migrant families or children traveling alone. Border patrol officials have also mentioned how their infrastructure is not capable to handle the flood of migrant families.
In some of the hard-hit areas, agents are spending almost half of their time transporting migrants for processing, conducting welfare checks, as well as taking them for medical checkups.
Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection or CBP has already reassigned hundreds of officers to assist with babysitting duties, leading to the closure of some traffic lanes at various ports of entry where they were previously stationed. Notwithstanding, the Defense Department has promised to provide more personnel to take care of such support duties.
“DoD personnel will not perform any law enforcement functions,” Lt. Col. Davis said. “In any situation that requires DoD personnel to be in proximity to migrants, DHS law enforcement personnel will be present to conduct all custodial and law enforcement functions, and provide force protection of military personnel.”