Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told Congress that the military needs to return to its traditional missions, and asked how much longer they will need to support The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during a House Appropriations subcommittee on budget hearing in Washington on May 1.
In a testimony to the subcommittee, Shanahan said he needs to determine how many more agents and other workers DHS must have to carry out duties at the border.
He seeks not only to determine how many more military personnel acting as border agents are needed, but also said active-duty troops “really need to get back to our primary missions.”
National Guard troops were sent to the border in April 2018 to help provide added security.
Additionally, in October 2018, President Donald Trump sent several thousand active-duty military personnel to the border to construct wire barriers and support Customs and Border Protection (CBP) safely and effectively.
In defense of budget requests to secure the southern border, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan told the subcommittee, “The president’s 2020 budget request would strengthen the security of our nation through enhanced border security, immigration enforcement, cybersecurity, transportation security, counterterrorism, and resilience to disasters.”
He said the United States is in the midst of an ongoing humanitarian crisis at the southwest border. DHS is seeking additional resources to respond to the crisis.
According to McAleenan, in March, CBP apprehended over 130,000 migrants crossing without legal status. He said last month there was a 24-hour period where over 5,000 people crossed the border without authorization.
“Simply put, our system is full, and we are well beyond our capacity.”
He said any new waves of vulnerable populations arriving are only exacerbating an already urgent humanitarian crisis at the border. “We don’t have the room to hold them, we don’t have the authority to remove them, and they are not likely to be allowed to remain in the country at the end of their immigration proceedings.”
Weak Border Is Hurting Americans
President Trump has in the past said a strong southern border wall is necessary for the safety and health of the American people.
The president has cited Mike McDaniel, director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program (HIDTA) in reporting there are at least 72,000 cases in the United States who died in 2017 of drug overdoses.
He called it an epidemic needing innovative strategies to address the country’s drug addiction issues. A secure border could very well lessen that number significantly.
An oversight of critics of the border wall—and those decrying that asylum seekers are in danger in Mexico waiting for a chance to apply for U.S. asylum—is the fact that more wall means more locations for ports of entry, allowing more people to be processed.
The president’s latest White House directive proposes ways to expedite the process for those seeking asylum while also expediting the removal of illegal migrants who are not eligible and do not qualify for asylum.