Biden Authorizes Reserve Troops To Be Deployed To The Border

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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President Joe Biden issued an executive order Thursday authorizing heads of the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to call up reserve troops to active duty for anti-drug missions at the southwest border.

U.S. authorities expect a surge of deportations of migrants attempting to enter the U.S. through the southern border once Title 42 COVID-19 restrictions lift in May, sparking fears of a potential surge in drug smuggling into the U.S. Biden’s order on Thursday would give Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the authority to call up as many members of the Ready Reserve force as necessary to “ensure” DOD can “properly sustain” its support for DHS in countering transnational drug trafficking, the order states.

The order did not give details on when or at what scale reservists could be recalled to active duty. Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said he had nothing to add regarding the order Thursday when asked how many troops could be expected to deploy to the southwest border. (RELATED: Maryland Officials Warn ‘The Mexican Cartels Are Here’ After 6 Indicted In Alleged Trafficking Conspiracy)

The U.S. has struggled for years to prevent drugs like meth, cocaine and fentanyl, a deadly opioid painkiller, from illegally flowing through the southern border into the U.S., seizing tons in illicit shipments each month.  The Biden administration has come under fire for failing to address the pressure at the border and stem the flow of dangerous narcotics.

Drug trafficking allegedly contributes to a worsening overdose epidemic in the U.S.; about 70% of the 100,000 overdose deaths tracked in 2021 were caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Chemicals used to make popular drugs that flow through the southern border into the U.S. often originate in China and are illegally produced, shipped and sold, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Republican Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw proposed an Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF) targeting drug cartels in January, arguing that treating drug cartels like terrorists is the only way to address the crisis.

About 2,708 National Guard troops were deployed at the border when DHS asked the Pentagon to extend their years-long mission to patrol the border in July, although the number is technically capped at 2,500, according to Military Times. The National Guard contingent will remain at least through summer 2023.

The Biden administration is preparing in a variety of ways for the expected wave of migrants that could come once the pandemic-era Title 42 ends, including setting up processing centers south of the border, expanding legal pathways and imposing harsher consequences for attempting to enter illegally.

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