The large wave of mostly women and children refugees walking from Central America to the United States apparently demands a military response, or at least it demands one seven days from the midterm elections.
The Trump administration announced that 5,200 active duty troops would be deployed “to harden the southern border.” Also deployed, 150 miles of razor wire on giant spools.
But let’s look at what’s really going to happen. These aren’t combat troops. They’re engineers and support personnel. And they can’t, by law, detain anyone.
But never mind that, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan says the military is needed for when the caravan maybe arrives in a couple of months:
“What is new and challenging about this caravan phenomenon is the formation of multiple large groups, which present unique safety and border security threats.”
”Due to the large size of the potential caravans that may arrive at the border, however, the Department of Homeland Security has further requested the support of the Department of Defense.”
The movement is the largest, quick deployment of active-duty U.S. troops since the response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, when thousands arrived within days, former officials said. It is a major escalation of the U.S. response at the border, which as recently as last week was planned for 800 troops. With 2,000 National Guard members already in place, it will exceed the combined U.S. military footprint in Iraq and Syria.
Where to begin? U.S. troops can’t be used to enforce domestic laws. So we have America’s fighting force reduced to the role of spotters for the Border Patrol. Wow. Is this even in the top 50 best uses for our military?
The problem for Trump, though, is that the military won’t actually be able to participate in detaining or deporting any of the migrants the way the president likely wants. That’s because US law forbids them from physically detaining individuals at the border.
So while the troops at the border will be armed, they will only legally be able to assist US border officials by doing things like helping transport border agents and providing emergency medical care to those who need it. The armed forces can also work to reinforce infrastructure around the border, like putting additional razor wire on border fences.
This is a political stunt. These troops legally cannot do anything other than logistics support.
Gross misuse of our military, taking them away from exercises and work meant to truly defend America.
Media must cover this as the ridiculous, wasteful stunt that it is. https://t.co/NABFMXUIv2
— VoteVets (@votevets) October 29, 2018
There is also controversy over the cost of this deployment.
The American taxpayer has every right to demand that President Trump reimburse the government for his insane waste of military resources, to try to stoke fears before an election.
This deployment is a complete waste, and a political stunt. Absolutely improper use of our forces.
— Wes Clark (@GeneralClark) October 30, 2018
Here’s something you won’t hear us say much, but watch this clip from Fox’s Shepard Smith. He is trying his best to get the real story about this caravan to an audience that is used to buying whatever Trump is selling without fact-checking.
Shep Smith on the migrant caravan: "There is no invasion. No one is coming to get you. There is nothing at all to worry about." pic.twitter.com/4dLmPuZem0
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) October 29, 2018