Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have joined colleagues in sending a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sharply criticizing the Trump administration’s newly-extended deployment of thousands of active duty servicemembers to the southern U.S. border. The senators demanded a rationale for the latest deployment extension—answers that are even more pressing as the administration announced on Sunday it will deploy more troops to the border.
“With each iteration, extension, and expansion of this mission, less and less attention is drawn to the egregious misuse of our troops and their commitment to duty,” the senators wrote in the Feb. 1 letter. “We refuse to allow the military to quietly and without reason become a law enforcement tool leveraged for political reasons and in violation of bedrock principles that separate military and law enforcement functions.”
The senators also pointed out that the mission expansion is a potential violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, and the deployment—now in its fourth month—will have a negative effect on overall active duty readiness.
“Troops will not have access to their standard training environment; they will be away from their families and they will be unable to deploy rapidly to other locations around the world in the event of a crisis,” the senators wrote. “The operational tempo of the active duty force remains high and adding to the deployment schedule without justification is dangerous.”
Joining Senators Wyden and Merkley on the letter are U.S. Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Catherine Cortez-Masto, D-Nev., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
A copy of this letter is available here.
A web version of this release is available here.