In accordance, with his signature hard line on immigration, President Donald Trump announced last week that the National Guard will be deployed to the southern border. Trump also alluded to, in a mix of tweets and press conferences, sending the military to deal with what’s seen by the administration as an influx of illegal immigrants, drugs and crimes.
Trump came into office in 2016 after a campaign centered around the promise of a border wall — described as big, beautiful and paid for by Mexico. Mexico has repeatedly declined the bill, and the federal budget passed last month did not include funding for this wall.
In absence of his campaign pipe dream, Trump has instead turned to the National Guard, calling for 2,000 to 4,000 troops to head to the border, allocating resources intended for quick emergency response to stand guard against supposed influxes of Central-Americans.
This action is preposterous, supported by embellished premises and is outright wasteful. The motives behind the move are not national security or rule of law, but rather giving political fodder to a right wing base and creating a wedge issue before the midterm elections.
According to the United States Border Patrol, the number of unauthorized immigrant apprehensions at the border has been at its lowest level since 1971, steadily decreasing since the mid-2000s.
The number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States has remained steady over the past 10 years, while in that time the percentage of unauthorized immigrants who have lived in the US for at least a decade has increased, according to Pew Research Center.
These numbers point to the fact that unauthorized border crossings have been decreasing. While the president has supported the action of deploying the National Guard by arguing it’s a response to a current crisis, the facts do not support this.
The National Guard is intended to be able to quickly react to a crisis such as floods, hurricanes or other emergencies. By deploying them to watch over the southern border, Trump misallocates resources that are needed during an emergency.
Further, the use of the National Guard is not a cost effective way of dealing with immigration, since members of the National Guard are not trained in immigration enforcement and are unable to make arrests. They’d essentially be playing a backup role to the border patrol agents stationed there.
The use of military force on the border can create a high price for those crossing. Tougher security can force immigrants to cross at more dangerous areas.
This does not decrease the rate of unauthorized immigrants trying to come into the country, but rather increases the fatalities among them.
Sending the National Guard to the border is a wasteful move, intended to placate those who agree with the president’s stance on immigration after he failed to secure funding for his border wall.
The benefits toward immigration policy will be slim and the costs high. Trump should look to enact bipartisan immigration reform influenced by proven security methods and not rely on a wasteful show of force.