Recently, President Obama declared that he was sending 1,200 additional National Guard troops to the Mexican border. It seems to be his way of saying, “This Arizona bullshit is getting out of hand.”
Now, on an intuitive level, sealing the border makes sense. One way to address the illegal-immigration problem is to prevent undocumented people from getting into the country in the first place.
However, I’ve never been clear on how more troops would help. Unless the National Guard is prepared to use lethal force, it seems to me that many illegal immigrants who have come that far are willing to take their chances. And if our troops are authorized to open fire on people, I doubt that all but the most hardened Minuteman will be indifferent to the inevitable sight of a gunned-down family.
Furthermore, as columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr has pointed out, “the U.S.-Mexico border has never been more fortified…. Agents apprehend people and deport them at a feverish clip.”
In fact, the United States has more border-patrol agents than FBI agents. And deportations over the last year are up, even as illegal immigration has declined. So we’ve got more guards, fewer people coming over, and more of them kicked out as fast as possible. And still the problem persists.
Could a path to citizenship and a temporary-worker program help? Would that allow agents to focus on those truly dangerous people who hop the border? Should we look into other creative ideas that are likely to piss off both liberals and conservatives, but are the most humane for people willing to risk everything for a better life?
Apparently, we should not. We’ll send people with guns to the border and talk about building a Great Wall of America to keep the hordes out.
Naturally, I’m curious where the funding for this military buildup is coming from. After all, most of the people who want to send a million troops to the border also insist that the U.S. government is incompetent and that federal spending is too high. It’s a bit of a contradiction.
Would they be willing to increase everyone’s taxes to seal the border? Now that would be an interesting debate to have.