Remove All Troops from the Border Now
Security Lies in Our Fight for the Rights of All
The armed troops will engage in what the military calls "large-scale mass trainings on use of force." The military is providing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with reconnaissance, intelligence and helicopters with night-vision capabilities and sensors. They will also provide CBP agents with more military equipment like riot shields, tactical shin guards, three-foot extendable batons, and an assortment of “less-lethal ” ammunition. The operation is under the command of General Terrence O ’Shaughnessy, the head of Northern Command, which is responsible for the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
It is significant that these are active duty troops and not more National Guard. Use of the National Guard commonly requires the consent of the governor from the state involved. Active-duty military does not and is completely under the command of the Pentagon, including numbers, length of deployment and rules for use of force.
Such a large deployment is hardly necessary for the few thousand women, children (at least one third of the caravan) and men arriving unarmed, traveling thousands of miles mostly on foot, seeking asylum in the U.S. Rather, the military occupation and live military exercise inside the country is aimed largely at the peoples of the U.S. and Mexico, getting them used to and making it acceptable for the military to be present and active in large numbers. It also brings CBP, state, county and local law enforcement officials under military command. Such unified command is required in conditions where conflicts among these contending authorities with the federal government is increasing, especially in sanctuary states like California. It is also needed if the president uses what he has termed an "invasion," to justify not only troops but martial law.
The military is not supposed to be used for policing and detention of any non-military person inside the U.S. This stems from the Civil War and Reconstruction era Posse Comitatus law (1878), which prohibits U.S. military forces from performing the tasks of civilian law enforcement such as arrest, apprehension, interrogation, and detention unless explicitly authorized by Congress.
The Pentagon insists the role of the troops is only in “support ” and not enforcement. The peoples of Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, to name a few, are well-familiar with the U.S. military acting in a “support ” capacity. It means the U.S. military takes command, is commonly involved in detentions, interrogations and armed confrontations, with little regard for the laws and authority of the given country. It is likely this deployment will be no different, with military and CBP together acting with impunity against the peoples both sides of the border and with little regard for state and local authorities.
Troops and Concentration Camps
At the same time that Trump is deploying the military, he has also ordered the Pentagon to develop detention camps to hold 200,000 people to start — again a number far larger than the unarmed refugees arriving at the border and seeking asylum. These concentration camps are planned for Fort Bliss and Goodfellow and Dyess Air Force bases in Texas and no doubt all the equipment being provided now will remain for such purposes, both by the military and CBP. They are also planned for locations in California and Arizona, where troops are deployed, as well as Alabama and Arkansas. While, like the troops, Trump claims the camps are for immigrants and refugees, just the numbers alone indicate that the future plan is for anyone the executive deems a “threat to national security.” If poor, unarmed families arriving mainly on foot can be called an “invasion ” and a threat “to the national interest ” as Trump proclaimed, certainly striking workers, anti-war protesters, water protectors and other environmental organizers, and others defending rights can be branded as such.
Broadening Police Powers
Use of the military inside the country, concentration camps, barring asylum seekers, arbitrary detentions, separating families, are examples of the broadening use of police powers by the executive. The actions are openly illegal and taken with impunity. Plans to use executive orders to eliminate birthright citizenship would be one more example — while clearly illegal, the executive can use police powers to implement it, just as is occurring with the illegal detentions and family separations. These actions carry on despite court rulings.
The Office of the President is using police powers at home and abroad to further usurp and concentrate power in the hands of the executive so as to deprive the people of power and rights. It is this government of police powers that is the danger. The current use of the military, CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are evidence of this — and all their actions have only increased the insecurity of the peoples, here and abroad.
The solution lies in stepping up the fight for the rights of all, abroad and at home. The organizing by military veterans to encourage current troops to refuse the orders to man concentration camps and attack refugees, the many immigrant and refugee rights organizations both sides of the border defending rights, the anti-war organizing that stands as one with the peoples fighting for peace and justice, are contributing to a more secure world. Let all join in stepping up the fight for empowerment and rights!
Remove All Troops from the Border NOW! [TOP]
These camps do not appear to be going up as quickly nor on such a massive scale as first announced (quite possibly due to the resistance on many levels), but they do appear to be moving forward. On the Texas border at Tornillo Port of Entry, a tent city that first detained a couple hundred children a few months ago will hold nearly 4,000 kids by the end of the year.
Few people actually join the military to travel to distant lands to kill people. Fewer still join to help run concentration camps. Under both U.S. and international law, military personnel have a moral and legal obligation to refuse to comply with any order that involves collaboration with these camps, but unfortunately few are aware of this fact.
That is why we need your help. Together, we are going to launch a strategically targeted communications project to reach service members across the country with this message:
•These camps are illegal and immoral.
Our initial goal is to raise $20,000 to spend approximately one penny per member of the U.S. military with this challenge. Of course, we believe that service members deserve two cents worth of encouragement if we can raise $40,000!
Just the idea of these massive military-hosted immigrant detention camps brings back memories of the forced relocation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Many of us thought something like that could never happen again, and yet, here we are. Along with everything else you can do to resist this affront to humanity, please support our challenge to military personnel to refuse these illegal orders.
Potential Pentagon Plans for Concentration Camps
Actual concentration camps are in the process of development at military bases across the Southern United States. [The numbers planned, close to 200,000, are far beyond the numbers of refugees and immigrants entering the country. It is an indication that the camps are designed for all deemed a “threat to national security” by the government — VOR Ed. Note] Potential locations have been identified by military or Pentagon personnel as:
• Tornillo Port of Entry, Texas – capacity 4,000 teenagers (Already in use and being expanded to 4,000 capacity by the end of the year)
• Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas – capacity 45,000
• Fort Bliss, Texas
• Dyess Air Force Base, Texas
• Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas – capacity 20,000
• Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Air Station, California – capacity 47,000
• Navy Outlying Field Wolf and Silverhill, Alabama – capacity 25,000
• Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Arizona
• Concord Naval Weapons Station, California – capacity 47,000 (Opposition by local community and officials brought a cancellation for this camp, at least for now)
This is not the first time in U.S. history that facilities are being constructed and used to imprison large numbers of a persecuted minority in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities (the definition of a concentration camp). Previous examples of this are now infamous, such as the internment camps of Japanese Americans.
Military officials, in response to pressured deadlines from the White House, have stated that these camps can begin to be operational by mid-August. Estimates are that capacity for another 10,000 people can be added each month. The White House’s stated timeline of 45 days out from June 27 has local base commanders scrambling and caught unaware. [The camps are being built at a slower rate but expansion plans remain — VOR Ed. Note]
In addition to providing the land, military personnel will construct the camps while private agencies will manage the operations. While this simplified explanation of operations seeks to minimize the military’s role, it omits the endless capacities in which the armed forces will surely be facilitating the functioning of these camps such as with water, electricity, sewage, trash, and all of the other services that go with sustaining tens of thousands of immigrant detainees.
Additional operational problems include the difficulty of housing persons in restricted access bases who legally need access to immigration and civil-liberties lawyers, secure areas to discuss their cases, as well as access for advocates, relatives, news media and political activists. Another issue is the lack of state licensing requirements, such as health and building codes, which military locations enable the government to avoid.
The Pentagon confirmed that it was indeed working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct these camps, ]but it remains unclear if there is a] Memorandum of Understanding with either DHS or Health and Human Services (HHS). A memorandum would clearly delineate the roles and responsibilities of all parties. To move forward with construction plans without one, nor any clear legal guidance, certainly leads military personnel into dangerous waters for themselves.
The military is strictly prohibited from domestic policing yet military personnel are being drafted into doing just that with this rising domestic enforcement of immigration policy. Just because Trump/Sessions Co. declares a war on immigrants, does not make it an actual war. Being quite clearly an illegal order, the question is who will refuse to aid and abet?
The Trump administration’s reckless leadership is currently putting military personnel in danger of running afoul of the law. While military personnel at all levels have a responsibility to refuse to participate in facilitating these camps, commanders in particular are at a particularly high risk in complying with these orders due to the precedent of the Nuremberg prosecution of those who aided and abetted Nazi leadership.
Already the construction of one camp has been abandoned due to people’s refusal to look the other way. The proposed use of the Concord Naval Weapons Station experienced significant resistance and outcry from the community and local officials who opposed the plan once it was exposed in July via a leaked Navy memo. DHS soon thereafter announced they would no longer build a concentration camp at this location. To follow that up the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department announced it is canceling its contract with ICE which facilitated the local county jails holding ICE-detained persons for a lucrative fee. These human rights victories have been happening in other communities as well including Sacramento County. [...]
There are discussions and calls right now for counties to cease partnering with ICE, for communities surrounding military bases to refuse to work on the bases which will hold tens of thousands of people for the “crime” of seeking refuge.
Courage to Resist believes that all military personnel have a moral and legal obligation to refuse to comply with any order that involves collaboration with these immigrant concentration camps.
Veterans For Peace strongly condemns the recent announcement that up to 15,000 active duty military personnel may be sent to the U.S. southern border. These troops will join the additional National Guard units that were sent last year, increasing the militarization of our borders at an alarming rate. Our immigration laws and enforcement tactics have long been at a crisis point and we are now witnessing an even more draconian surge in the use of force to prop up failed policies.
Veterans For Peace calls on all our members and all veterans who see the inhumanity and injustice of the current policies to call their Congressional Representative and Senators to demand the military be pulled back from the border and that the members of the approaching caravan be treated with dignity and processed according to international humanitarian standards as refugees. We call on all service members participating in the border deployment to follow the long American tradition of listening to their conscience and remember that they have no obligation to follow illegal orders. (For questions on military rights, contact the GI Rights Hotline (1-877-447-4487) or Courage to Resist.)
The U.S. government, instead of welcoming the approaching refugees, the majority of whom will seek asylum under completely legal processes, is treating individuals and families fleeing to the U.S. as if they are "terrorists" (even when "counterterrorism" officials within the administration are stating that no such people exist within the caravan). The majority of these refugees are fleeing from violence in Honduras and a political situation U.S. actions have made worse.
The U.S. government's claims that active duty troops are providing only innocuous support services are misleading. This is the introduction of U.S. military force as a deterrent to those who are pursuing their rights as asylum seekers fleeing from extreme poverty and violence in their homelands, much of it due to U.S. policies. The U.S. is required under international humanitarian standards to welcome those seeking refuge.
Veterans For Peace recognizes that these orders did not happen in a vacuum, but represent a long history over several administrations of racist and violent policies that has perpetuated U.S. wars across the world and horrific domestic policies that created Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), massive immigration detention centers and a wall that already splits towns and separates friends and families. However, the Trump administration has escalated, at an alarming pace, the implementation of new dangerous measures. […]
Veterans For Peace is not only concerned about the safety of individuals and families fleeing violence and the increased militarization of the border but we are extremely concerned about the continued disregard of federal law. Federal law, namely the Posse Comitatus Act, prohibits the deployment of active duty troops on domestic soil and the U.S. Government continues to ignore laws in favor of increasing militarization of U.S. domestic policy.
As military veterans from WWII to the current era of conflicts, who have trained for, and in many cases, fought in U.S. wars, we know that current U.S. policies have not only failed to bring peace but are morally bankrupt and we do not believe that more military at the border is rooted in justice or compassion.
It is more important than ever that veterans stand up, speak out and organize to disrupt the dangerous escalation of racist and unjust policies, both at home and abroad. We, as veterans, know that peace is possible, but only if resources are directed towards caring for one another, not perpetuating militarization across the globe.
Reveal, Center for Investigative Reporting
With President Donald Trump deploying 7,000 troops this month to help the U.S. Border Patrol confront a migrant caravan from Central America, one important question stands out: How well are government forces trained to deal with a large group of civilians?
The migrants are unarmed, though several of them reportedly threw rocks at Mexican officers as they crossed that country’s border a few weeks ago. Trump recently said any rocks thrown at troops would be considered a rifle after a reporter asked if the military would fire at the migrants.
“We’re not going to put up with that. They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” Trump said. He later backtracked on his comments, saying that migrants would be arrested instead.
Reveal asked Customs and Border Protection about the kind of training officers would complete in anticipation of the migrants’ arrival. The agency provided a statement saying officers will be “participating in operational readiness exercises.” It did not respond to a reporter’s follow-up questions.
Reveal posed the same questions to the Department of Defense. General Terrence John O’Shaughnessy, the commander leading the border operation, told reporters last week that troops would receive use-of-force training.
“We are, in fact, as an example, setting up training programs that’ll be all the way from a large-scale mass training that will then go down to unit training,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman Jamie Davis told Reveal that training will depend on each troop’s assignment. He said he did not immediately have details about what the training would entail.
In general, soldiers, like police, are instructed to use force to defend themselves from “imminent threat of physical injury or death,” as well as to overcome resistance during an arrest, prevent destruction of military property, or to control or restrain animals, according to a Department of Defense directive obtained by the Federation of American Scientists. They are also trained in “scaled use of force,” which includes a variety of nonlethal tactics such as voice commands, pepper spray and batons.
Besides the thousands of troops, the military will be providing helicopters “to support the movement of CBP tactical personnel,” as well as medical teams, temporary housing, light towers and fencing materials like barbed wire, according to the Department of Defense.
Then there are the so-called militia groups who say they are headed to the border to confront the caravan. The militias are governed by another set of rules: Forty-one states have laws restricting private military activity, including Arizona, Texas and California.