May 08, 2019

Wyden Raises Concerns Over Expanded Militarization of Southern Border

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today joined 18 other senators in raising concerns over the expanding mission of active-duty U.S. servicemembers deployed to the southern border.

The senators demanded a legal justification for increased military activities at the border, including a loosening of restrictions on contact between servicemembers and migrants crossing the border.  According to recent reports, the Department of Defense is preparing to ease rules that limit those interactions – further militarizing the humanitarian crisis at the border and increasing risks to active-duty servicemembers.

“We urge you to revoke these waivers to prevent the continued escalation of military involvement in immigration enforcement activities and the further politicization of the use of servicemembers to inappropriately respond to a divisive domestic policy issue,” the senators wrote Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

In today’s letter, the senators also asked for additional information regarding what training and guidance – if any – servicemembers have received regarding rules for the use of force, as well as legal restrictions including Posse Comitatus and other Department of Defense policies.

“Ensuring that servicemembers are prepared to operate in a law enforcement context – rather than a combat zone – is critically important, and we seek evidence to demonstrate that troops deployed to the border are appropriately trained for these circumstances,” the senators wrote.

Today’s letter led by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) also was signed by Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

The full text of today’s letter is available here.