The United States of America is facing a severe crisis – foreign nationals are unlawfully entering the country through our southern border with Mexico, and have been for many years, and are violating our country’s sovereignty. Over the last few years, this problem has been widely discussed in the political arena, and covered a lot by the media. Given the latest efforts by foreign nationals, mostly Hondurans, to gather in large group and cross Mexico to head towards the United States border, while their actions are receiving national media coverage in the U.S., have raised the urgency for strong action to seal our border. While America remains a generous and welcoming country, issuing visas to foreign nationals, granting permanent residency status, and giving citizenship to those who are following the legal procedures, our country must take all actions necessary to prevent the violation of our immigration laws.
President Donald J. Trump, according to a statement from the White House, dated April 4, 2018, is “authorizing the deployment of the National Guard to support the Border Patrol in its mission to protect our country and stop the stream of illegal immigration.”[i] The order to deploy troops at America’s southern border with Mexico is a bold step in enhancing our economic and national security. While his decision faces some criticism, President Trump’s correct decision to strongly enforce existing immigration laws and protect Americans has received widespread support from elected officials from all over the country, including those from our own state of Wisconsin. Furthermore, this measure has received applause from the National Border Patrol Council, which represents approximately 18,000 Border Patrol Agents and support personnel assigned to the U.S. Border Patrol.[ii] This is a major step in protecting our sovereignty as a country and upholding the rule of law.
According to April 5, 2018 press release by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there has been a 203 percent increase in the number of illegal border crossings from March 2017 to March 2018. Furthermore, the department stated that from last month to this month, there has been a 37 percent increase in illegal border crossing, which represents the largest “month to month” increase since 2011.[iii]According to the White House, more than one thousand people a day, and over 300,000 people a year, unlawfully enter the United States by crossing the border.[iv]This presents an ongoing, and growing, threat to our economic and national security, and must be addressed.
This is not the first time that troops are being deployed at the southern border – both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush had deployed guardsmen at the border during their terms in office. What is different this time is the fact that the lack of a secure border was one of the major issues that presidential candidate (at the time) Donald Trump had spoken about throughout his campaign. He promised to solve this major national security issue. Other problems (drug trade, human trafficking, etc.) associated with an unsecure border are growing every day, resulting in extreme urgency to solve this crisis.
Just on April 6, 2018, Border Patrol agents seized over 327 pounds of marijuana (with an estimated value of over $297,000) in Laredo, Texas.[v] That same day, Border Patrol Agents seized 754 pounds of marijuana (with an estimated value of over $600,000) from a vehicle driven by a Mexican national.[vi] Also, Customs and Border Protection officers arrested a Mexican national at a port-of-entry in Douglas, Arizona, and thwarted an effort to smuggle narcotics (with an estimated value of almost $169,000) into the United States.[vii] Also, this month, a woman was arrested by border agents for trying to smuggle three Mexican nationals into the United States.[viii]
One of the greatest challenges that we face, pertaining to the lack of border security, is the re-entry of illegal aliens who are convicted felons. Earlier this month, Border Patrol agents in Tucson, Arizona, arrested a previously convicted child sex offender, who re-entered the United States illegally.[ix] Agents also arrested a foreign national, who is a criminal sex offender and was previously deported, after he illegally re-entered the United States.[x]
Furthermore, efforts to illegally cross the southern border to come into the United States also result in illegal aliens putting their lives at risk and requiring medical attention. For example, on April 4, 2018, Border Patrol agents apprehended six illegal aliens in Laredo, Texas, one of whom was “severely dehydrated and in need of immediate medical attention”. The very next day, a Mexican national, with swelling on his leg, was rescued by Border Patrol Agents and transported to a local hospital.[xi] These are just a few cases of the numerous varieties of enormous challenges we face due to the lack of a secure southern border.
As a step towards not only fulfilling his campaign promise, but also listening to the voices of millions of Americans who want to see a strong and secure border, President Trump made the announcement that troops will be deployed at the southern border. This announcement came at a time after the news broke that a “caravan”, with over a thousand people (mostly Honduran nationals) are approaching the United States through Mexico, allegedly with the desire to enter our country unlawfully. Illegal aliens often take advantage of the U.S. policy of “Catch and Release”, which “allows for immigrants caught in the U.S. without proper documents to be released from detention while their cases play out in court.”[xii] If these released illegal immigrants do not show up for their court date, there is little to no way to find them and hold them accountable for breaking the law. If the “Catch and Release” policy continues, any “caravan” of people entering the United States could use that opportunity to remain in the country for months, perhaps years. President Trump announced the end of this policy.[xiii]While the widely publicized “caravan” might have triggered the urgency for deployment of troops and ending of “Catch and Release”, the need for such strong actions has been there for a very long time.
Governors of border states such as Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico are supporting President Trump’s decision.[xiv] Even as far as in the Midwest, Governors Scott Walker and Kim Reynolds of Wisconsin and Iowa, respectively, have expressed their approval and are prepared to send National Guard troops to the southern border, if the Trump administration requests.[xv] Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, expressed his support for the president’s decision to work with border state governors to deploy the National Guard, and said that he is looking forward to working with the administration to “fix the broken system and close legal loopholes that incentivize illegal immigration.”[xvi] House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul called the deployment decision “a positive step toward providing the safety this nation has long demanded.”[xvii] In spite of the necessity for deployment of members of the armed forces at the border, as a result of mass illegal immigration which threatens our country, some are protesting the President’s decision. Notably, Governor Kate Brown of Oregon has said that her administration will not help in the deployment.[xviii]
The need for border security is greater than ever before. The deployment of National Guard is a crucial step in combating illegal immigration and the associated problems such as the smuggling of drugs and human trafficking, but Congress still has to take strong action to come up with a long-term solution to end this crisis. In the meantime, we must all recognize that the country as a whole suffers from illegal immigration. Therefore, we must put partisanship aside and unify to establish strong borders and end illegal immigration.