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Lawmakers worry border work, migrant housing too much for military

The Trump administration’s request for the Pentagon to house migrants detained at the U.S. southern border and even provide lawyers to prosecute them is drawing congressional criticism that it puts undue strain on the military. | AP file photo

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s request for the Pentagon to house migrants detained at the U.S. southern border and even help prosecute them is prompting concern about strains to the military.

In Congress, some lawmakers are criticizing the move.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis argues that the Defense Department is obliged to provide help.

But several senators are objecting to Mattis lending 21 military lawyers to the Justice Department.

The Pentagon has received a Department of Homeland Security request to house up to 12,000 detained migrant family members, starting with shelters for 2,000 people to be available within 45 days.

It also has agreed to make housing available at an air base for up to 20,000 unaccompanied migrant minors.

Mattis has made it his top priority to improve the military’s fitness for combat.

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