Jul 26, 2019

Active troops monitor detained migrants in Texas

Detention center in Donna, Tex. in 2017. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Active-duty troops are monitoring migrants from inside a Border Patrol holding facility in Donna, Texas, to perform welfare or "wellness" checks, NBC reports.

Why it matters: According to a congressman and a former defense official interviewed by NBC, these stationed troops are potentially in danger of violating the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military in civilian law enforcement.

What's happening: 4 defense officials — 2 current and 2 former — told NBC that the troops are stationed in Donna to perform wellness checks requested by Homeland Security last year. According to those officials, troops began those welfare checks earlier this summer.

  • These checks are reportedly intended to identify migrants' responsiveness and check for "signs of illness, any signs of violence, and signs of suspicious behavior," per NBC.
  • "The checks started with troops walking through the facility every 15 minutes, but troops now stand above the migrants and monitor them constantly," NBC reports.

What they're saying: Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) told NBC that having active duty troops supervise detained migrants is "teetering on the edge of the posse comitatus law."

  • A former defense official told NBC that if a service member responds to a fight, they'd play a different role than what is legally permitted under the Posse Comitatus Act, adding, "They should be way behind the fence of the border to help CBP."
  • John Cornelio, a spokesperson for the U.S. military's Northern Command, told NBC that, "In the event of a medical emergency or other reportable event, our military personnel immediately notify CBP personnel on-site who respond to the incident or event in question."

Go deeper: Trump administration sends 2,100 more troops to southern border

Go deeper

A returning U.S. citizen's rights at the border

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

International travel for most Americans requires the proper documents and a lot of patience to get to the front of the immigration line and back into the country. But if Customs and Border Protection pulls you off to the side for a secondary screening, here's what you need to know.

The big picture: The 4th Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, but it doesn't apply at the U.S. border, says Georgetown law professor M. Tia Johnson, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

Go deeperArrowJul 27, 2019

Number of attempted border crossings drops below 100K

Border Patrol checks the arm of an immigrant from Guatemala. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

In July, the number of migrants arrested or turned away at the southwest border fell below 100,000 — to 82,049– for the first time in 5 months, according to new Homeland Security data.

The big picture: The significant drop in border activity comes as Mexico has cracked down on immigration enforcement following President Trump's threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods. Guatemala also recently signed a “safe third country“ agreement, which will force more asylum seekers to pursue protection in Guatemala instead of the U.S.

Go deeperArrowAug 8, 2019

2 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan, bringing 2019 total to 14

Soldiers are seen in the Achin district in Afghanistan in 2017. Photo: Zabihullah Ghazi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Two U.S. service members stationed in Afghanistan were killed in action on Monday, NATO Resolute Support said in a statement. The identities of the service members will be withheld for 24 hours until the next of kin is identified.

Why it matters: The war in Afghanistan is America's longest by far, with the number of service members killed in 2019 — 17 years after Operation Enduring Freedom began — now totaling 14. Most Americans view the war as a failure. The announcement comes on the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said President Trump has directed him to reduce the number of troops stationed in Afghanistan by the 2020 election, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeper: U.S. pushes toward “face-saving way out" of Afghanistan

Keep ReadingArrowJul 29, 2019