Democratic lawmakers are seeking to get Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to drop Pentagon plans for military personnel to directly interact with migrants on the southern border, arguing it could violate long-standing law, according to a Military Times report.
In a letter obtained by Defense News and signed by 19 Democratic senators, the lawmakers requested Shanahan withdraw waivers he granted to nearly 280 of the more than 4,000 troops deployed to the border.
“We urge you to revoke these waivers to prevent the continued escalation of military involvement in immigration enforcement activities,” the lawmakers, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), wrote.
The waivers have become another political dispute around President Trump’s February border emergency declaration. The letter also seeks for Shanahan to make a legal case for “military protective activities” that the president has authorized the troops to perform.
Most border missions have involved placing barrier reinforcements and providing logistics support, but generally not directly engaging with or detaining immigrants or asylum seekers.
The letter was signed by several presidential hopefuls, including Sens. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class David Marin