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Unfair Posse Comitatus Rule Won’t Let Trump Have Police State Of His Dreams

lawsplainer

Trump has now sent in the troops to stand guard over very dangerous immigrants being held at an immigration concentration camp in Donna, Texas. The military isn't supposed to be used as domestic law enforcement, because we're [technically] not a police state.

But that's fine, because Trump has "an Article II" that allows him to do "whatever [he] want[s]."

Posse Comitatus

The Posse Comitatus Act (prounounced "päsē ˌkämiˈtādəs," not whatever dirty way you were thinking) is an 1878 law that limits how the federal government can use troops stationed in the US. Under the Posse Comitatus Act, troops can't be used for law enforcement purposes or be in direct contact with civilians, including immigrants.

So what, exactly are the troops doing?

Oh, they're just acting as prison guards for some very dangerous immigrant families.

But isn't that using the troops as law enforcement?

Yes, yes it is.

So, how are they getting away with this?

They're pretending the troops are really just there to help the imprisoned migrants get medical help. [insert largest of eye rolls here].

Here's the official party line:

John Cornelio, spokesperson for the U.S. military's Northern Command, said that interaction between the troops and migrants "is limited as much as possible."

"At the Donna facility specifically," Cornelio said, "unarmed military personnel monitor the migrants for signs of medical distress, possibility for unrest, unusual behavior and unresponsiveness. In the event of a medical emergency or other reportable event, our military personnel immediately notify CBP personnel on-site who respond to the incident or event in question."

"Monitoring the wellness of migrants is not a law enforcement function, and this activity has been reviewed by our legal staff to ensure compliance with the Posse Comitatus Act and applicable law. CBP personnel are always present to provide force protection, physical security and perform their law enforcement duties."

Right. Military troops are standing constant guard over immigrants just to make sure they're safe and healthy. Because this administration just cares so much about the health and welfare of the people it's sending to concentration camps.

Can you say "pretext"?

As reported by NBC News, one "U.S. defense official denies that the troops are guarding the migrants, saying they are monitoring them."

That's what we call a distinction without a difference.

In reality, the troops are being told to "stand watch" over the migrants in the Donna facility.

Despite past assurances from federal officials that the active-duty U.S. troops deployed to the border would not be in direct contact with migrants or be used for law enforcement, the service members stand watch over the migrants. The troops are perched on raised platforms throughout a large room where the migrants are held[.]

The troops were assigned to the facility to provide welfare checks on the migrants, but the officials say that has evolved into a continual presence watching over them.

Uniformed military personnel standing guard throughout a facility where we're locking people up because of their immigration status certainly sounds like the military being used as domestic law enforcement.

But hey, we aren't experts in military law. This former three-star Admiral is, though:

And let's not forget that 16 Marines were arrested this week on human trafficking and drug smuggling charges.

Trump just really loves our troops, okay?

Trump loves to grandstand about how much he just loves our troops and surround himself with tanks whenever he can.

He loves the troops so much, in fact, that he just can't seem to stop doing terrible things to them. Since 2016, Trump has:

  • Sent troops to the border for his pre-election "the vary scary caravan of impoverished families is coming for us!" charade.
  • Used troops, tanks, and military fly-overs for his creepy and potentially illegal Fourth of July Nazi parade that cost taxpayers $5.4 million.
  • Tried to take SNAP benefits and healthcare away from millions of military families.
  • Created a new tax for the families of fallen service members, costing them thousands of dollars.
  • Banned transgender troops from serving in the military.
  • Skipped out on a ceremony honoring World War I veterans.
  • Said he prefers war heroes who don't get captured.
  • Lied about donating $1 million to nonprofits for veterans.
  • Repeatedly personally attacked gold star families.
  • Deported the families of active duty soldiers.
  • Deported veterans without even considering their service.

We could go on and on. (And if you'd like to read more about some of the different ways Trump has screwed over the troops, check out this 2018 piece from GQ.)

No wonder Trump's approval ratings with service members have been falling since he took office.

To cap things off, on Friday night the totally-legitimate-and-not-just-an-arm-of-the-Republican-party United States Supreme Court decided Trump could steal $2.5 billion (yes, "billion" with a b) from the Pentagon's budget while the litigation proceeds, giving a pretty good indication that they have no plan on stopping it in the future. This could pull the plug on any number of military projects, including construction of things like hospitals and housing units for military families.

Naturally, Trump celebrated.

Because he just loves the troops so much, you guys.



[ NBC News / Vox / Military Times / GQ ]

Jamie Lynn Crofts
Jamie Lynn Crofts is sick of your bullshit. When she’s not wrangling cats, she’s probably writing about nerdy legal stuff, rocking out at karaoke, or tweeting about god knows what. Jamie would kindly like to remind everyone that it’s perfectly legal to tell Bob Murray to eat shit.
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