The Pentagon rejected a request from the White House last month to allow U.S. troops to perform emergency law enforcement tasks along the U.S.-Mexico border, CNN reported on Friday.
Two unnamed Defense Department officials familiar with the request told CNN that the White House requested a reserve force authorized to provide “crowd and traffic control” to areas along the border and to protect Border Patrol personnel ahead of the arrival of thousands of migrants preparing to apply for asylum in the U.S.
But on Oct. 26, the Pentagon rejected the request according to CNN, because the Defense Department felt that the tasks fell outside the scope of active duty soldiers’ authority.
Officials at the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill, while a Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment on the issue when reached by email.
News of the White House’s request comes despite assurances from defense officials that any troops deployed to the border would not come in to contact with a caravan of migrants currently headed to the U.S. southern border, and would only support local law enforcement personnel.
The Defense Department on Monday announced the deployment of more than 5,000 active-duty troops to the southern U.S. border, which joined nearly 2,100 National Guard troops already stationed at the border to assist Homeland Security personnel.
“By the end of this week will we deploy over 5,200 soldiers to the southwest border. That is just the start of this operation; we’ll continue to adjust the numbers and inform you of those,” a spokesman said.
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