Thursday, July 18, 2024

Trump’s decision to militarize the border is causing headaches for the Pentagon


One month after President Trump’s unexpected move to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, the Pentagon is pushing ahead in moving thousands of troops and equipment south.

At least 1,500 guardsmen have now been sent to the border to curtail a “surge of illegal activity,” according to Trump, amid outstanding questions about the cost of the endeavor and how long troops will stay. Rep. Vicente González (D-Texas), whose district includes a stretch along the southern border, said he’s seen no real change on the ground in his area; “I’m all for security and law and order, but it’s just such a monumental waste of taxpayer dollars,” González told The Hill.

Trump took his own administration by surprise when he made his April 2 announcement that he wanted to deploy U.S. troops to guard the southern border until his wall is built. Defense Secretary James Mattis followed the order with a memo authorizing the placement of up to 4,000 National Guard troops on the border.

Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have now sent two requests for assistance to the Pentagon’s new Border Security Support Cell, which was hastily established to help coordination between the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Homeland Security. It’s estimated that it will cost $182 million to keep 2,093 guardsmen at the border through the end of September.

Demands from state executives are also causing headaches for the Pentagon. For instance, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) last month said the state would accept funding for 400 Guard troops, but he said they wouldn’t all be sent to the border and stipulated conditions.

The Pentagon’s April memo also stipulates that the guardsmen are not to perform law enforcement activities or interact with migrants or other individuals detained by Homeland Security without his approval. These limitations only increase questions about the helpfulness of having troops at the border.