On April 4, President Donald Trump ordered National Guard troops to the Mexican border as the first step in his plan to reduce and control illegal immigration and drug trafficking. This order came two weeks after the president received criticism for signing a spending bill that did not include funding for his proposed border wall. The White House did not indicate the number of troops, cost of the endeavor or specific duties, other than that the National Guard is to enforce U.S. law until Trump’s wall is constructed.
To supplement the order, President Trump tweeted:
“Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong. Congress must change these Obama era, and other, laws NOW! The Democrats stand in our way – they want people to pour into our country unchecked….CRIME!”
Because the National Guard’s specific duties at the border are not clear, critics have raised questions as to the prudence of the president’s decision, calling the plan a waste of military resources.
The president made sure to include in his memo that his predecessors, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have implemented similar measures.
The Bush administration’s two-year-long deployment of troops to the border in 2006 cost around $1.2 billion and, plagued by ineffective communication and lack of preparation time, was mostly a failure.
The Obama administration’s deployment of troops to the border from July 2010 to Sept. 2011 cost around $110 million and was aimed at reducing human trafficking and drug smuggling, many deemed the operation unsuccessful.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown of California pledged to send roughly 400 troops to the state’s border with Mexico. However, Brown qualified his participation on the grounds that the enforcement is not tied to immigration. Instead, the governor wants the troops to focus on controlling transitional gangs, as well as firearm and drug smuggling.
Trump, not willing to compromise, tweeted, “Looks like Jerry Brown and California are not looking for safety and security along their very porous Border. He cannot come to terms for the National Guard to patrol and protect the Border. The high crime rate will only get higher. Much wanted Wall in San Diego already started!”
The Republican governors of the three other border states, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, have readily embraced the plan.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said in an April 6 memo that the federal government will provide up to 4,000 troops at the border until Sept. 30. After that, increases in duration of deployments or the numbers of troops at the border will be decided on a state governors on a case-by-case basis.
Photo courtesy of Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.