The Pentagon is set to waive a longstanding policy that prohibits military personnel from having contact with migrants as part of a move to increase the military’s involvement at the Southwest border, The Washington Post reports.
Senior officials at the Department of Defense have asked acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to authorize waivers for over 300 troops following a Department of Homeland Security request for military lawyers, cooks and drivers along the southern border. The Pentagon previously approved a similar request that provides emergency medical care for migrants if necessary.
Last month, the DHS processed over 103,000 migrants after a surge in immigration, which the Post notes is the highest one-month total in over 10 years. Border Patrol officials report that they’ve become too busy with migrant families to conduct their law enforcement duties, and have particularly felt the need for more drivers and agents to bring migrants to hospitals.
The request specifies that the military personnel would stay in a “segregated driver’s compartment,” and will not act in a law enforcement capacity. They will also be asked to help distribute food to migrants being held in detention facilities, and to “document the provision of care” for those migrants. The military attorneys would help in deportation hearings taking place in New Mexico, New York and Louisiana.
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