The Pentagon will send some 300 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to help in tasks that will put them in contact with migrants, marking a break in current practice.
A statement released Monday by the Department of Defense said the troops will provide administrative support, helping transport migrants, distributing meals and “monitoring” their welfare.
The Pentagon said the deployment, which was requested by the Department of Homeland Security, will last until the end of September and cost about $7.4 million.
There are already about 2,900 active-duty troops and about 2,000 National Guard troops helping the DHS at the border. Until now, the troops have been forbidden to have direct contact with migrants as a way to emphasize that the military is not in a law enforcement role.
“DoD personnel will not perform any law enforcement functions,” Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said in a statement. “In any situation that requires DoD personnel to be in proximity to migrants, DHS law enforcement personnel will be present to conduct all custodial and law enforcement functions, and provide force protection of military personnel.”