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House to investigate Trump’s troop deployment to southern border

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. (New America/Flickr)
January 28, 2019

Opposition to President Trump’s decision to deploy military personnel to the border amid the migrant caravan crisis has sparked a Congressional probe.

Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told NPR early Monday that the committee will be launching a probe into Trump’s decision to deploy troops to the southern border.

Listen to the audio below:

NPR’s Steve Inskeep asked Smith whether or not deploying troops to the border was “a legitimate use of U.S. military power.”

“Absolutely not,” Smith said, adding that constructing fences and structures wasn’t a “good use” of troops’ time.

The committee’s first hearing will probe the decision in an effort to “shine a light on it and make it clear that there is no legitimate purpose here,” Smith said.

“If the deployment to the border right before the election wasn’t a legitimate use of military power, what was it? Was that a political use of the military?”

“Absolutely,” Smith replied, explaining that Trump portrayed the migrant caravan as an invasion or a crisis, which was “utter and complete nonsense.”

“Border security has gotten a ton better in the last 14 years, in part because we made a lot of policy decisions to do it,” Smith said. “The president is manufacturing a crisis to pander to his base. … He made [the promise to build a wall] because it played well to his crowd. Something that plays well to the crowd doesn’t translate into policy.”

Smith alleged a border wall is not needed because the migrants from the recent caravans are turning themselves in.

“You don’t need a wall, you don’t need to stop them. We need stuff to process them,” he argued. “We could use some more money for judges to process asylum seekers. Processing asylum seekers is the crisis.”

Smith added that he is concerned about additional deployments based on political decisions and not legitimate uses.

“This president does not operate like any president I’ve ever dealt with or ever read about. He is unabashed in pursuing his agenda in any way he sees fit,” Smith said.

Smith has been an outspoken opponent of President Trump. Earlier this month, he criticized Trump’s border wall agenda, saying it is rooted in discrimination.

“He wants to scare people about the hordes coming from south of our border. It’s rooted in xenophobia and racism and an anti-immigrant bias — it is not rooted in fact … He is trying to demagogue the immigration issue, and that is why the government is shut down,” Smith said, according to The Seattle Times.