House Committee Plans Hearing About Trump’s Deployment of Military to the Border

January 28, 2019, 8:31 PM UTC

The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing about the Trump administration’s deployment of the military to the U.S.-Mexico border on Tuesday, NPR reports.

In the run up to the 2018 midterm elections, President Donald Trump frequently claimed that a dangerous migrant caravan was approaching the southern border. He sent thousands of active duty military troops there to help block the migrants—a move some say was a political stunt to drum up support for Trump’s border security plan.

Many of those troops remain at the border today.

The new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, aims to look into the matter.

“We want an explanation of the policy. We want to shine a light on it and make it clear—in my view—that there is no legitimate purpose here,” Smith said on NPR Monday morning.

While he said he broadly agrees with some of the president’s goals, such as pulling troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, Smith told NPR that Trump sending troops to the border was “absolutely not” a legitimate use of the military and that the idea of an immigrant invasion is “utter and complete nonsense.”

“The president is manufacturing a crisis to pander to his base,” said Smith. “He made [the promise to build a wall] because it played well to the crowd. Something that plays well to the crowd doesn’t translate into policy.”

To Smith, sending troops to the border was a waste of resources. He said they may have put up barbed wire and built a temporary structure or two, but “you can’t tell me that was a good use of their time.”

“Most of those people who went down to the border were sitting around playing cards because they didn’t have anything to do because there was no invasion,” he said.

The real crisis, said Smith, is processing asylum seekers.

“These caravans that are coming? They’re turning themselves in,” said Smith. “You don’t need a wall. You don’t need to stop them. We need stuff to process them.”

Trump has long targeted the U.S. asylum program, which allows immigrants to apply for protection regardless of how they arrived in the country. After failing to restrict asylum seekers to official ports of entry, the Trump administration is now returning some asylum seekers to Mexico to await their court date.

Smith said the country could use more money for judges to process asylum seekers.

“Processing asylum seekers is the crisis,” said Smith, “and the president is demagoguing this issue instead of addressing the problems that he raises.”