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What National Guard troops on the border can and can't do

Hundreds of troops ...

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 3:44 AM
Updated: Apr 10, 2018 3:44 AM

Hundreds of troops are on the way to the US-Mexico border after President Trump signed a memo warning of a security crisis there.

National Guardsmen are already meeting with US Customs and Border Protection officials to plan next steps.

They'll work together, but in some ways troops will have to stay in the background; legal restrictions limit what they can do on US soil.

Defense Secretary James Mattis has authorized the deployment of up to 4,000 National Guard personnel through September 30, 2018.

What isn't permitted? What can they do? And what questions are we still waiting for administration officials to answer?

Here's a look:

What they can't do

For Border Patrol agents, arresting undocumented immigrants and drug trafficking suspects is part of their job description. But National Guard troops will be limited in how much they can do to help.

There's a law that dates back more than a century known as "posse comitatus," which bars active-duty US troops from domestic law enforcement without authorization. Other laws and regulations have further clarified that troops can't participate in activities such as making arrests and conducting searches, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis.

So how far can they go? Past presidents haven't tested these boundaries and therefore courts haven't weighed in. The Trump administration so far has avoided questions about how exactly it interprets these restrictions, saying lawyers are examining these issues.

Last week Defense Department officials said that without approval from Mattis, troops would not perform law enforcement activities or interact with migrants or others who are detained. Officials say the troops will only carry weapons in "circumstances that might require self-defense."

In past border operations, officials have said National Guard troops can't:

- Arrest people

- Seize drugs

- Conduct searches

What they can do

President George W. Bush sent 6,000 troops to the border. President Barack Obama sent 1,200. The deployments cost a total of more than $1.3 billion. In those operations, troops provided support to Border Patrol agents in a range of ways, including building and maintaining barriers and roads, conducting aerial surveillance and transporting agents.

This time around, the Defense Department says National Guard troops' efforts will include:

- Aviation

- Engineering

- Surveillance

- Communications

- Vehicle maintenance

- Logistical support

Unanswered questions

Here's what we don't know yet -- and hope to find out as troops begin arriving at the border:

- What exactly will they do?

- When will they be armed?

- Under what circumstances would Mattis approve troops performing law enforcement activities or interacting with migrants?

- How much will this operation cost?

- How many troops in total will deploy?

- Will officials end up extending the deployment beyond September?

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 585607

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson851431591
Mobile48584864
Madison37411533
Shelby27192257
Tuscaloosa27145465
Montgomery26119627
Baldwin25207329
Lee17184181
Calhoun15382334
Morgan15147291
Etowah14928370
Marshall13079235
Houston12021293
Elmore10890219
St. Clair10737252
Limestone10699158
Cullman10503205
Lauderdale10240254
DeKalb9498192
Talladega8935188
Walker7775288
Autauga7537114
Jackson7384117
Blount7352139
Colbert6691142
Coffee6342132
Dale5605117
Russell478943
Chilton4763117
Covington4738125
Franklin456681
Tallapoosa4511156
Escambia439283
Chambers3936125
Dallas3742163
Clarke370563
Marion3455107
Pike332079
Lawrence3257100
Winston298373
Bibb289765
Geneva282883
Marengo262267
Barbour250661
Pickens245262
Butler240172
Hale235178
Fayette226765
Henry212845
Monroe201541
Randolph200344
Cherokee198848
Washington184339
Macon169752
Crenshaw167758
Clay165659
Cleburne161145
Lamar150938
Lowndes145355
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh120632
Coosa118129
Perry110328
Sumter110333
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
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Sunday heat and humidity look likely to return once again, but Sunday will also mark the beginning of a transition to cooler and slightly less humid weather ahead.
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