Another year has begun and troops, including the National Guard, remain deployed on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Then-Defense Secretary James N. Mattis extended the active-component mission to the end of January before resigning last month. The Guard mission, which includes 2,300 soldiers and airmen on the border in California, Texas and Arizona, is authorized through the end of the fiscal year.
Those Guardsmen are supporting Immigration and Customs Enforcement as needed, performing vehicle maintenance, administrative duties and monitoring surveillance data, among other tasks.
The Department of Homeland Security recently submitted another request for assistance to the Department of Defense, according to a report in The Military Times.
The report said the request did not specifically ask for additional troops, but instead asked for capabilities. The Pentagon provided support, materials and logistics for the 5,000 active duty and Guard troops currently deployed at the border.
The border’s future remains uncertain, as president Donald Trump has frequently said he would use the military (and military funding) to build a wall across the border if Congress does not provide exclusive funding for it.
Trump tweeted a quote from House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who said the president could “declare an emergency” and order the military to build the border wall under U.S. law. “'Yes, there is a provision in law that says a president can declare an emergency. It has been done a number of times.’” The president tweeted.
The comment came from Smith’s ABC interview in “This Week,” where Smith added, “In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, where is the emergency.”
The border already has hundreds of miles of barriers, fencing and wall. Private land and geographic challenges would make a wall’s construction difficult elsewhere.