KEY POINTS

  • Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine will head review
  • Congress raised concerns about troops at southern border
  • Current number of troops deployed at the border is 6,500

The Pentagon’s independent investigations office has launched a review to determine the legality of the U.S. military forces deployed at the border with Mexico.

According to the acting inspector general (IG) of the Defense Department, Glenn Fine, the probe will assess whether the deployment of armed forces violates a federal law that prohibits active-duty military troops from carrying out law enforcement duties inside the U.S.

The evaluation will probe several aspects of the border troops, including the activities carried out, the training they received, and the cost of the deployments.

The review was opened three months after 30 members of Congress had requested an investigation to be carried out into deployment, calling it a misuse of the military, NBC News reported.

“We refuse to allow our service members in uniform to become pawns in the President's unnecessary and dangerous anti-immigrant political agenda," the Congressmen told Fine in their letter, as per NBC News. "Congress and the American people deserve to know why our military forces are being politicized and whether the U.S. military is violating federal law under the President’s orders."

The Trump Administration has argued that the troops at the southern border are part of national security. They have assisted the Department of Homeland Security in border surveillance, erecting wire barriers and performing other functions.

Since the fall of 2018, the number of active-duty military forces and the National Guard deployed at the U.S.- Mexico border have crossed 5000 at times. The current number of troops deployed stands at 6,500 due to the troop transition.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., one of the 30 members of Congress who expressed concern, said in a statement Tuesday that he welcomed the investigation. According to him the military should have no role in enforcing domestic law.

“Trump’s troop deployment to the southern border risks eroding the laws and norms that have kept the military and domestic law enforcement separate," he said in the statement.

The review will be carried out by a team consisting of investigators, auditors, and attorneys.

US Mexico Border Troops are heading to the US-Mexico border as part of the newly announced “Operation Faithful Patriot” to stop the migrant caravan heading to the country. In this image: U.S. customs and border patrol agents and riot policemen take part in a border security drill at the US-Mexico international bridge, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Oct. 29, 2018. Photo: Getty Images/Herika Martinez