Washington, D.C — President Donald Trump announced a military deployment in the U.S-Mexican border to ensure security.
More than 5,200 troops will be sent to the border to assist the local and federal law enforcement and border security authorities with an imminent influx of immigrants from Central America. The administration’s decision comes after stories broke last week regarding the migrant caravan. The caravan, which has reportedly exceeded 10,000 people, is headed toward the U.S. border. The president said that the caravan contains numerous gang members and “some very bad people.” He added in a tweet that they “will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”
Some deployed troops are part of the active duty force. More than 2,000 National Guard soldiers have already been mobilized to deal with the crisis. Last week, an average of around 1,900 immigrants either illegally entered the country or requested asylum. It is unclear how many managed to enter unnoticed.
“The president has made it clear that border security is national security,” said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of U.S. Northern Command. Although O’Shaughnessy mentioned that the soldiers will be armed, other U.S. officials have emphasized that the deployed troops will be there to support and directly intervene. More specifically, they stressed that troops would build infrastructure — such as barricades, tents, and chow halls — that would enable customs officers to safely handle immigrants.
“We’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars — we’re going to have tents,” said President Trump.
However, some accuse the administration of political ploys before the midterm elections that will take place next week. Trump’s opponents argue that the president weaponizes the migrant caravan to stir the Republican base and garner more votes. Shaw Drake, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union Border Rights Center said that “President Trump has chosen just before midterm elections to force the military into furthering his anti-immigrant agenda of fear and division.”
Interestingly, the numbers of troops deployed will equal the size of the U.S. military presence in Iraq that is fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS) and supporting the Iraqi Army. Troops will be deployed to Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Border security isn’t a novel argument in American political discourse; neither is it a new task for the U.S military. Going back to the years after World War One, American administrations were also worried about border fragility.