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Pentagon watchdog evaluates mission of troops along U.S.-Mexico border

By
Don Jacobson
A section of border fence on the U.S.-Mexico border in Tecate, Calif. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
A section of border fence on the U.S.-Mexico border in Tecate, Calif. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- The inspector general of the Defense Department has opened an "evaluation" of President Donald Trump's use of military personnel at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Acting Defense Department Inspector General Glenn Fine sent a memo Tuesday to top military leaders and indicated the review would include an assessment of the legality of the deployments, which began in late 2018 under orders from Trump to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection in stemming illegal immigration.

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In a statement, Fine said the review is being undertaken "based on several requests" made to his office.

Congressional Democrats, including House armed services committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith, have criticized a "lack of transparency" about the cost and mission of the border deployments.

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The Defense Department has 3,600 active-duty military troops stationed at the border, along with 3,000 from the National Guard. The Pentagon announced an extension in September that will send more troops next year.

The review will also include the training of border troops, coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and the amount of funding that supports the border deployment.

The deployment is part of the Trump administration's tougher "zero tolerance" immigration policy targeting those who cross into the United States unlawfully. Also Tuesday, a federal judge blocked a plan by the administration to pay for a border wall with diverted military funds.

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