National Security

Trump and Mattis Sending 800 Troops to Border to Stop Migrant Caravan

A caravan of would-be undocumented migrants is slowly making its way through Mexico, aiming for the U.S. border. While the migrants are still about a thousand miles from the border, they’ve drawn an immense amount of attention. It’s believed that at least 5,000 migrants have joined the caravan and its growing. The migrants are looking to leave behind gang violence, the on-going drug wars, and depressed economies.

If President Donald Trump has his way, the migrants won’t cross the border. Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis has authorized the deployment of an additional 800 troops to the southern border, bolstering an already large presence of Homeland Security personnel and National Guard troops. Some 2,100 National Guard troops are already on the border, but the new soldiers will be coming from the standing military.

The soldiers won’t be engaged directly in securing the border but, instead, will be supporting Homeland Security. The American military is generally forbidden from engaging in law enforcement on domestic soil. As such, it’s unlikely that they’ll be directly confronting any would-be migrants.

Instead, the soldiers will be providing medical care and logistical support, such as setting up tents and delivering supplies. By doing so, the military can free up Homeland Security personnel, who can then focus on patrolling the borders and, if necessary, detaining and deporting migrants.

Trump Blames Democrats

President Trump has blamed the slow rolling migrant caravan on Democrats, arguing that “weak laws” make it more difficult to secure the borders. This is an interesting tactic given that Republicans control both the House and the Senate.

President Trump and other Republicans have also suggested that Democrats might be paying migrants. Others believe billionaire George Soros might be paying them. So far, no one has come forward with any evidence of compensation. Paying migrants would certainly be an odd strategy given that 80 percent of Americans support secure borders (versus open borders).

Given that many thousands of migrants cross over into the border each year, it’s quite possible that these migrants are driven by the same motivations as all the others. Speaking of which…

Why Are the Migrants Coming?

President Trump has labeled the caravan an “assault on the country.” While it’s tempting to look at the migrants as an invasion, it’s also important to be sympathetic to their situation. Many of the migrants are fleeing because family members have been killed and because they themselves are facing death threats. Some are also economic migrants.

That doesn’t mean America shouldn’t enforce its borders. Weak border control could lead to a massive influx of migrants, as has been seen in Europe. This, in turn, could stir up animosity among local citizens and strain already fraught relationships while also draining resources.

Further, at best, migration is a temporary solution for those who can escape. The underlying violence and poverty that is fueling migration remains unaddressed. In a more ideal world, we’d be working to address those issues so that people aren’t driven from their home countries.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is a political consultant and has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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