On Wednesday, the day after senior Defense Department officials testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee about the administration’s decision to send active-duty troops to the southern border, the Pentagon announced that it would be deploying an additional 2,000 or so troops, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of the current fiscal year.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith expressed skepticism over whether the deployment was “an appropriate use of the military’s time and resources,” and later criticized the Pentagon for not having revealed that they were planning to deploy more troops. House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson also vented his frustration with the administration, specifically with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen declining his request for her to testify about border security.
President Donald Trump sent more than 5,000 troops to the border in October, just before the midterm elections, in a move heavily criticized by Democrats as a political stunt to manufacture a security crisis. At the time, a “caravan” of Central American migrants was slowly making its way through Mexico. In late November, border agents fired tear gas on a crowd of migrants, including children, less than a week after Trump had authorized the use of “lethal force” if necessary. American Oversight launched an investigation of the troop deployment in December, and filed Freedom of Information Act requests to multiple federal agencies for more information about the use of tear gas and about any decision to politicize the caravan.
American Oversight has multiple ongoing FOIA requests regarding Nielsen’s misleading statements about immigration and terrorism, and this week we filed new requests about the government’s recent implementation of a new policy called Migrant Protection Protocols. The policy requires migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their requests process, but Vox has reported that the process skips the asylum screening interview and gives the applicant a notice to appear before an immigration judge, after which they’ll have to wait in Mexico again. We have sent FOIA requests to DHS to learn more about this policy’s coordination and implementation.
We’ve also continued our efforts to hold the Trump administration accountable through multiple ongoing investigations and actions across the government:
Part of Investigation: