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Remember in November when then Defense Secretary James Mattis said U.S. troops assigned to the southwestern border were not expected to interact with migrants?
Well, they are.
NBC News first reported that active-duty troops are assigned to a a Customs and Border Patrol camp in Donna, Texas, where their job involves keeping an eye on the migrants being held there to see if any of them are suffering from medical problems.
"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," NBC reported. "The troops are perched on raised platforms throughout a large room where the migrants are held, according to the four officials."
President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday that the Pentagon is "now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border," an escalation on his declaration in early April that he's "going to have to call up more military" to defend U.S.-Mexico border.
But when the commander-in-chief imagined a fresh round of troop deployment to the southwest border, he probably didn't mean military cooks, lawyers, and drivers.
A Mexican immigrant couple living in Brooklyn attempted to visit a family member stationed at Fort Drum, New York, on the Fourth of July before his upcoming deployment — but instead, they were detained at the base gate, questioned by Border Protection agents, and taken to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility miles away, according to a local NBC news affiliate.
To take a migrant child from her parents at a U.S. point of entry, place her in a just-erected government tent city, and keep her separated from family costs the federal government a whopping $775 per child per night, according to the Department of Health and Human Services — more than twice what it would cost to house the children in detention with their families, and nearly six times more than a brigadier general's or rear admiral's housing allowance for New York City.
Editor's note: Before publication, Task & Purpose reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for a comment on the experiences Dennis White recounts below. A representative of the agency responded that White and his wife were "detected illegally crossing the border," but declined to comment further on their temporary detention. CBP's full statement to T&P; is reprinted below, following this essay.