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Trump’s Border Security Plan Has Precedent

The+increase+of+troops+and+additional+equippment+at+the+border+will+help+keep+the+United+States+more+safe+and+secure.+%28Courtesy+of+Facebook%29
The increase of troops and additional equippment at the border will help keep the United States more safe and secure. (Courtesy of Facebook)

The increase of troops and additional equippment at the border will help keep the United States more safe and secure. (Courtesy of Facebook)

The increase of troops and additional equippment at the border will help keep the United States more safe and secure. (Courtesy of Facebook)


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By Timothy Kyle

Over 1,000 troops were deployed to the border. There were 60,000 pounds of marijuana seized and almost 20,000 illegal immigrants apprehended. Are these statistics from Trump’s deployment of U.S. troops to the border with Mexico? No.

Those are the results of the Obama administration’s own usage of the military to support and strengthen Customs and Border Patrol in Operation Phalanx, from 2010-2011. As controversy swirls around Trump’s immigration rhetoric, the fact remains that former presidents, Democrat and Republican, understood the usefulness of deploying troops to the border to address past immigration crises.
President Trump first announced his plan to send National Guard troops to the border in April 2018, amid an annual seasonal uptick in illegal border crossings, mostly spurred by migrants from Central America. In the following weeks, troops from California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas arrived. Then, as now, the troops primarily served in a support role, constructing fencing and infrastructure, providing headquarters support and conducting aerial and foot surveillance, freeing up actual Border Patrol officers to perform arrests of border crossers.

On Oct. 28, Trump announced an expansion of this effort by 5,200 troops, primarily military police and National Guard, to further secure points of entry across the entire southern border. The catalyst for the increased deployment is undeniably the large migrant caravan currently making its way through Mexico to the U.S. with an estimated 7,000 people, mostly from the Central American countries of Honduras and Guatemala. The caravan’s behavior so far has been one of disregard for the countries it is entering.

They clashed with waiting Mexican police, resulting in a number injured on both sides and at least one dead, according to The Wall Street Journal. Eventually, the caravan gained entry to Mexico when the police were ordered to stand down. It is thus completely understandable that President Trump would want to harden the border of the United States as much as possible to adequately prepare for such a massive influx of people.

The duties of the extra 5,200 troops are primarily geared towards crowd control and managing the ports of entry where migrants will most likely arrive, deal with the surge and any logistical fallout, then return home by mid-December.

The National Guard previously deployed will remain and continue to provide support. There is precedent for this action in the last two major deployments of National Guard troops to the southwest border by presidents. In 2006, George W. Bush engaged 6,000 troops in Operation Jump Start with similarly stated goals to the current deployment by Trump: build infrastructure, support Customs and Border Patrol operations, conduct surveillance and provide administrative support.

The move was considered a success: it gave CBP solid foundations from which to expand their operations and helped build intra-law enforcement cooperation and strategy by the time it ended in 2008. The previously mentioned Operation Phalanx conducted by President Obama was much the same, in addition to training and equipping Border Patrol officers.

President Trump, his advisors and his predecessors are utilizing the concept of a “force multiplier,” a military science term that refers to a factor or factors that dramatically increase (or multiply) the effectiveness of an already-existing group. The deployment of troops to the border acts as a force multiplier to the Customs and Border Patrol by freeing up agents from everyday or support tasks to focus only on securing the border as the migrant caravan approaches.

The military is also simply better equipped to handle tasks like surveillance and construction than the Border Patrol, which will constitute a major part of its duty on the border. However, soldiers certainly won’t be arresting drug traffickers or stopping illegal immigrants themselves; it’s simply not legal. The president’s unnecessarily inflammatory rhetoric about about this deployment has obfuscated the true purpose of the troops and creates controversy where there shouldn’t be any.

The National Guard and regular Army are useful tools when utilized in support of Customs and Border Patrol, offering improved logistical, administrative and engineering support to handle surges in migration. Trump’s latest move is merely a recognition of that.

Timothy Kyle, FCRH ’21, is a political science major from West Hartford, Connecticut.

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Trump’s Border Security Plan Has Precedent