When President Trump deployed the National Guard to the border in April of last year to stop “the flow of deadly drugs and other contraband, gang members and other criminals, and illegal aliens into this country,” the reaction was similar to that of this headline from Foreign Policy: “Both Sides Are Overselling Trump’s Troop Deployment to the Border.”
Writing for Foreign Policy, Lara Seligman said that “the actual facts of the deployment do not live up to the hype from either side. The move — coming right before crucial midterms while the caravan is more than a month away from reaching the U.S. border on foot — is arguably a political ploy.”
“More important, once they arrive, the troops’ mission will be relatively benign. Since they are legally prohibited from performing domestic law enforcement, the troops will spend their time putting up razor wire and offering logistical support to border patrol agents, rather than making arrests themselves.”
However, a new report indicates that “benign” mission made a serious dent in illegal cross-border traffic.
“National Guard troops helped with the arrest of 23,034 illegal immigrants and the seizure of more than 35,000 pounds of drugs in the roughly six months they were deployed to the border in fiscal 2018, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” the Washington Examiner reported on Tuesday.
“The more than 23,000 people arrested were ‘deportable’ noncitizens, DHS said. The operation, dubbed ‘Guardian Support,’ also led federal law enforcement to more than 6,100 people who were later turned back, the data said.”
And yes, they did all of this without apprehending anybody. It turns out that razor wire and logistical support was fairly effective.
“Troops are providing support from the air, surveillance backup, and assistance with infrastructure projects such as vegetation clearing and road maintenance, not including border wall construction. Guardsmen can also be used to free up agents to leave their desks and get back out to the field,” the Examiner reported.
“The troops monitoring remote video surveillance systems have then been able to report sightings to a greater field of agents, and thus the number of apprehensions has increased, officials have said.”
This, in other words, is far from benign.
According to Pew Research, there were almost 467,000 apprehensions at the southern border in 2018. Roughly 5 percent of apprehensions, in other words, had something to do with the National Guard.
That points to a fairly effective record. So, why are certain governors withdrawing their National Guard troops from the border?
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would be withdrawing the Guard from the border with Mexico, calling “the border ‘emergency’” a “manufactured crisis.”
“California will not be part of this political theater, which is why I have given the National Guard a new mission. They will refocus on the real threats facing our state,” Newsom’s prepared remarks for his State of the State speech in February read, according to Fortune.
This was days after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, citing a “charade of border fear-mongering,” also ordered most of the National Guardsmen to withdraw.
“I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border,” she said, according to NPR.
Yet, the deployment of the Guard to the border during this “manufactured crisis” managed to apprehend more than 23,000 illegal immigrants in a year that saw the most apprehensions at the border since 2012 and an explosion in the number of family units apprehended.
So, are these troops benign? Or too effective? After all, the Democrats have made it clear they don’t particularly want any form of serious border security. They don’t believe there’s any sort of border crisis and don’t seem to care if illegal immigration levels are at their highest in six years.
They simply don’t care — and that’s why they don’t want the National Guard at the border. It has nothing to do with ineffectuality. Quite the opposite, actually.
For the most cynical of reasons, they want illegal immigration to continue. Whatever externalities it may cause are worth the benefits for them.