The Trump administration has authorized troops stationed at the southern border to engage in some law enforcement activities and potentially to use deadly force, according to a report by Military Times on Wednesday.
The order, which may violate the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, was not signed by President Trump, but by White House chief of staff John Kelly.
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, that law bars active military soldiers from engaging in domestic law enforcement, although military force can be used on U.S. soil to “suppress insurrection or to enforce federal authority.”
Kelly’s order was labeled a “cabinet order,” reported the Military Times.
Under the order, military personnel at the border are allowed to “perform those military protective activities that the Secretary of Defense determines are reasonably necessary.”
The “protective activities” include “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention, and cursory search.”
Trump deployed 5,900 active duty soldiers to the border, along with 2,100 National Guard troops, just before the Nov. 6 midterm elections as he stoked fear about an approaching group of refugees from Central America who intend to seek asylum at the U.S. border. He referred to the group as an “invasion” and even warned that he would authorize U.S. military personnel to open fire on them if they threw rocks.
Trump told reporters late last month that he wouldn’t be surprised if Billionaire philanthropist George Soros was funding migrants traveling in a caravan that was still nearly a thousand miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border at the time.
The Pentagon said Tuesday that stationing the troops along the border will cost taxpayers $72 million through Dec. 15.