Texas and Arizona have officially announced their plans to send troops with the National Guard to the southern border between Mexico and the United States. This is mere days after President Trump had ordered thousands upon thousands of soldiers to be deployed there for the purposes of drug trafficking and illegal immigration prevention.
250 troops will be sent to the border by the Texas National Guard in the next 72 hours. Two Lakota helicopters had already been deployed by the time of this announcement. Also, Arizona’s governor said the state would be sending 150 various troops in the following week.
Brigadier General Tracy Norris, the commanding general of the Texas National Guard, told reporters at a briefing,
“The Texas national guard is preparing to immediately deploy with supporting aircraft, vehicles and equipment to the Texas-Mexico border. This deployment has begun with the movement of equipment and troops today. Within 72 hours the Texas military department will have 250 personnel along with ground surveillance vehicles as well as light and medium aviation platforms.”
“Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced his plans in a tweet. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis signed an order for “up to 4,000 National Guard personnel to support DHS’s southern border security mission while under the command and control of their respective governors through September 30, 2018,” according to a Department of Defense memo.
The memo set out that troops would not carry out law enforcement activities without the defense secretary’s approval and would be armed only in “circumstances that might require self-defense.”
Mattis and Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the decision came after their departments “identified security vulnerabilities that could be addressed by the National Guard.”
“Together, the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense are committed to using every lever of power to support the men and women of law enforcement defending our nation’s sovereignty and protecting the American people,” they said in a joint statement. “We will continue to work with the governors to deploy the necessary resources until our nation’s borders are secure.”
Trump had said on Thursday that the final deployment would range from 2,000 to 4,000 troops, and he would “probably” keep many personnel on the border until his promised border wall is built — spelling out a lengthy mission. The move has heightened tensions with Mexico, whose President Enrique Pena Nieto said Trump’s “threatening or disrespectful attitudes” were unjustified.
It has also raised questions about who will fund the mission. The Pentagon could not say where the money would come from and Trump admitted the White House was still “looking at” costs. If 4,000 troops were deployed, that would be about double the current US military presence in Syria and about half as many as the number of US troops in Iraq.
The National Guard has previously been deployed to help patrol the southern border, including in 2010 under former president Barack Obama, and from 2006-2008 under George W. Bush. Both deployments were limited to around a year.”
“Deployments to the border under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both occurred under Title 32. Bush sent around 6,000 troops in 2006, and Obama sent 1,200 Guard members in 2010.
Trump’s proclamation blamed “the lawlessness that continues at our southern border.” Trump has suggested he wants to use the military on the border until progress is made on his proposed border wall, which has mostly stalled in Congress.
After plunging at the start of Trump’s presidency, the numbers of migrants apprehended at the southwest border have started to rise in line with historical trends. The Border Patrol said it caught around 50,000 people in March, more than three times the number in March 2017. That’s erased a decline for which Trump repeatedly took credit. Border apprehensions still remain well below the numbers when Bush and Obama deployed the Guard to the border.
News reports of a caravan of Central American migrants passing through southern Mexico also sparked angry tweets from the president. The caravan of largely Central American migrants never intended to reach the U.S. border, according to organizer Irineo Mujica. But Trump has repeatedly cited it as an example of what he called America’s weak immigration laws.
Department of Homeland Security officials have said Guard members could support Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement agencies. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said this week that guard members could “help look at the technology, the surveillance,” and that the department might ask for fleet mechanics. Federal law restricts the military from carrying out law enforcement duties.
From 2006 to 2008, the Guard fixed vehicles, maintained roads, repaired fences and performed ground surveillance. Its second mission in 2010 and 2011 involved more aerial surveillance and intelligence work.
Leaders in both Arizona and Texas said Friday that they were working with federal planners to define the Guard members’ mission. The Arizona National Guard said in a statement Friday that it would “provide air, reconnaissance, operational and logistics support and construct border infrastructure.”
As the helicopters were taking off Friday in Texas, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Travis Walters said that the 250 troops going “is what our initial surge is so that we can then very quickly roll in a larger amount of forces as needed.” Walters did not specify where the first round of troops would be stationed.
About 100 Guardsmen remain deployed as part of the existing state mission in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for unauthorized crossings on the southwest border. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now Trump’s energy secretary, originally sent about 1,000 Guard members to the border in 2014 in response to a surge in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the Rio Grande.””
There is certainly a precedent for this type of action. President Obama and President Bush both deployed troops to the border in the past. However, because of President Trump’s stance on illegal immigration, it is very likely this is the reason why this announcement of troop movement is blasted all over media headlines.
Considering the fact that the recent appropriations budget passed by Congress, the Senate, and the White House did not include as much funding for President Trump’s long desired wall it is not surprising this action was taken. The obvious conclusion is that the lack of funding requires more protection to be added elsewhere, i.e. the border.