Washington, D.C. — Today, President Donald Trump announced still-undeveloped plans to deploy the National Guard to “protect” the border. Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
Trump’s plan is a terrible idea for multiple reasons. To begin with, the National Guard won’t have much to do because unauthorized border crossings are at a 45-year low. In fact, right now the average Border Patrol agent on the southwest border only apprehends around one person every 19 days.
And while Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen assures us that “the threat is real,” it isn’t clear who this administration views as a threat. More than one-third of the southwest border apprehensions in the first five months of fiscal year 2018 were unaccompanied children and parents traveling with minor children—oftentimes seeking out Border Patrol agents to begin the process of requesting asylum. The important humanitarian protections that apply to these people—what Trump derides as a “whole big wasted procedure”—are designed to prevent the return of people facing persecution, torture, and human trafficking. Thankfully, calling up the National Guard will do nothing to erase these safeguards.
There’s nothing surprising about Trump’s plan to falsely increase fear about our border with Mexico; it’s part of his political origin story. It is also now clear that Congress will not give him the money to begin construction of his “big, beautiful wall.” The photo op he seems to crave, of himself at the border holding a shovel and wearing a hard hat, is unlikely. The best he will get is a photo of himself standing next to a person in uniform who is largely prohibited by law from doing pretty much anything of consequence. What’s that they say in the southwest? All hat, no cattle?
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