By Olivia Libowitz
Elm Staff Writer
If you’ve been one of the onlookers who keeps assuming “the day will never come,” guess what: it has come. What day is that? The day when we realize President Donald Trump is actually putting into place some of the actions he has been threatening.
Technically, that day has been here since he started running, as far as social changes (i.e., the political climate around social issues getting more hot-tempered). On Friday, April 6, we saw some more concrete action. Texas became the first state to deploy the National Guard to the Mexico-United States border.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has authorized funding for 4,000 troops to be deployed along the border, and 150 soldiers were sent down earlier this month. Those who were worried that Trump lacked follow-through might be pleased to see he’s acting on promises to defend the border, but the real question is this: what on earth is he defending it from?
OK, illegal immigrants, I know that’s the technical answer. Will sending in the National Guard actually do anything? You may or may not know that the National Guard has actually already been defending the border for about 30 years now. They haven’t left, they haven’t shrunk in size. So we’re not actually “sending the National Guard,” we’re sending more National Guard.
This might make sense, if you believe much of the rhetoric regarding an influx in people trying to sneak across the border. There is little evidence, though, to support that the numbers are actually increasing.
In a New York Times article, writer Dave Montgomery quoted Vicente Gonzalez, a representative of the district of border city McAllen. Gonzalez expressed concerns over bringing more guard members down to McAllen, as the city was at a “46 year low in illegal entries.” It’s true; sending down more and more guard members to our border is increasing the sensation that our country is under attack in some way. It implies that we are being greatly invaded, which is false.
There was one area which was already highly defended along the Texas border, to protect against, in the words of then-governor, Rick Perry, “brutal drug cartels that [were] preying upon…communities.”
This was put into place in 2014 and was meant to end the following year, but has since been expanded and still runs today. There are already 1,000 troops there and the cost of this mission, between National Guard and Texas Military Forces, was almost $63 million. That is, before we send down additional troops all along the Texas border, and potentially beyond. The second wave of guard members will add even more expenses to an already pricey endeavor.
This sort of push just increases national distrust and unrest in a way which is not only unhelpful, but potentially extremely expensive. According to General Norris, it is “premature right now to know what the cost will be.”
We are deploying troops to peaceful areas, at unknown costs, for unknown amounts of time, to defend a threat which is non-existent, or at the very least, is not as severe as is being made out to be.