The easing of Covid-era restrictions could lead to an increase in migrants, officials say.
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The Biden administration fears that the lifting of a public health rule that allowed officials to quickly expel migrants could lead to an increase in border crossings.
WASHINGTON — President Biden is sending 1,500 active-duty troops to the southern border with Mexico, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, as the administration braces for a possible influx of migrants seeking to take advantage of the lifting of Covid-era restrictions to asylum.
The Pentagon is expected to announce the border deployment Tuesday afternoon, one official said. The troops, the official said, will be armed for self-defense, but they will not have a law enforcement role. Rather, they will help Border Patrol agents with processing asylum seekers and provide data entry and warehouse support.
They will supplement 2,500 National Guard troops who are already at the border.
The decision comes less than two weeks before the scheduled court-ordered lifting of Title 42, a public health rule issued during the pandemic that gives U.S. officials unusual powers to quickly expel migrants who cross the border without permission. Officials in the Biden administration fear the change in law will attract a wave of migrants.
The additional troops will likely remain at the border for 90 days, after which they would likely be replaced by contractors or military reserve troops, one official said. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced yet.
Republicans have criticized Mr. Biden for easing border restrictions put in place by President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump’s presidency featured border policies that thrust the United States into a storm of criticism characterized by photos of children separated from their parents and put in cages.
At one point in 2018, Mr. Trump described a “wall of people” to stop caravans of Central American refugees and called for up to 15,000 troops to defend the border. The Pentagon sent 5,900, then cut that number quickly to 2,400. Mr. Trump also spoke of telling the military to respond to rocks thrown by migrants as if they were rifles.
Democrats said the Trump deployments — especially the ones just before the midterms — were flagrantly political.
The Posse Comitatus Act, dating to Reconstruction, bars American forces from engaging in law enforcement activities within the borders of the United States.