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Trump Plan to Send Troops to the Border Could Hit Legal Snag

us militaryPresident Trump announced on Tuesday his plan to deploy the military to patrol the southwest border after reports surfaced that a large group of asylum seekers is looking to immigrate to the United States.

Since his campaign, Trump has criticized and threatened to rescind a number of U.S. immigration policies and practices he deemed were too lenient and allowed undocumented immigrants to freely enter the country. In particular, the President criticized laws allowing people to come and ask for asylums as he explained recent announcement to buff up border control.

“The Mexican border is very unprotected by our laws.We have horrible, horrible, and very unsafe laws in the United States,” Trump claimed in a news conference where the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were present.

The White House confirmed that Trump’s plan of action involves mobilizing the National Guard, installing troops at points along the border who would remain there at least until the border wall completes construction.

Trump has arranged for a meeting with defense secretary Jim Mattis to discuss his plans for securing the border. It is not yet clear what kind of role troops will have should they be deployed at the border. But according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the deployment will follow a similar system that happened under President George W. Bush. He and President Obama deployed troops to the border during their respective administrations.

But Everard Meade, Director of the Trans Border Institute at the University of San Diego, is skeptical about Trump’s ability to carry out these plans, claiming that any attempt at installing troops at the border would meet legal challenges.

A post-Civil War piece of legislation known as the “Posse Comitatus Act OF 1878” prohibits U.S. troops from being deployed outside of U.S. soil to enforce domestic laws, with the Coast Guard being the only exemption to such law. As a result, the President may only deploy troops in cases of rebellion or invasion, neither of which, Meade argues, fall under the definition of illegal immigration.

Governors, on the other hand, retain the power to deploy the National Guard in their respective states responsive to certain emergencies. It’s a loophole that previous presidents have used to order the Nation Guard to assist Border Patrol agents. While past presidents have worked with governors to install troops along the border, California, a state strongly opposed to the Trump presidency, is unlikely to cooperate with such plans.

As for Texas, given Greg Abbott’s pro-trump and anti-immigration stance, this is unlikely to be a problem.

So, for now, it remains to be seen how Trump’s announcement to deploy troops at the border will pan out. If you would like to learn more about this latest update to U.S. immigration policy, or have a loved one seeking asylum in the country, don’t hesitate to sit down for a consultation with the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to talk to immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.