The easing of Covid-era restrictions could lead to an increase in migrants, officials say.

WASHINGTON — President Biden is sending 1,500 active-duty troops to the southern U.S. border with Mexico, officials said on Tuesday, as the administration braces for a possible influx of migrants seeking to take advantage of the lifting of Covid-era restrictions on asylum.

Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that the troops would fill gaps in transportation, warehouse support, narcotics detection, data entry and other areas.

The Pentagon said the additional troops would be armed for self-defense but would not have a law enforcement role.

They will be deployed for 90 days to supplement 2,500 National Guard troops who are already at the border.

“This deployment to the border is consistent with other forms of military support to D.H.S. over many years,” General Ryder said in a statement, referring to the Department of Homeland Security.

The decision comes less than two weeks before the scheduled court-ordered lifting of Title 42, a public health rule issued during the pandemic that gives U.S. officials unusual powers to quickly expel migrants who cross the border without permission.

The decision to deploy active-duty troops signals rising anxiety within the White House over the political backlash that would come with a surge of illegal crossings after Title 42 ends.

While Mr. Biden came into office promising to establish an orderly and compassionate process for asylum seekers, illegal crossings emerged as a primary political vulnerability for him. His senior aides have deliberated and debated for the past two years over how to drive down illegal crossings and at times relied on policies imposed during the Trump era.

The use of the military also harkens back to the Trump era, when officials sent more than 5,000 active-duty troops and members of the National Guard to secure ports of entry, hold training sessions, provide support at holding facilities and help with border wall construction. The Trump administration also sent Customs and Border Protection crisis teams to the border before court decisions that it feared could prompt large crowds of migrants to seek entry to the United States.

“Deploying military personnel suggests a concerning lack of readiness for this transition,” Andrea R. Flores, Mr. Biden’s former director for border management at the National Security Council, said on Twitter. The Department of Homeland Security “had over two years to plan a gradual wind down of Title 42. Instead, the situation has escalated into a greater emergency that will, once again, lead to troops in border communities.”

Republicans have criticized Mr. Biden for easing border restrictions put in place by President Donald J. Trump, whose presidency featured policies that thrust the United States into a storm of criticism characterized by photos of children separated from their parents and put in cages.

Democrats said the deployments by Mr. Trump — especially the ones just before the midterms — were flagrantly political.



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