WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House announced on Wednesday that President Trump will sign an executive order soon that send National Guard troops to the southern US border.
No details have been released including how many troops will be deployed, where they’ll be sent and how long they will stay. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen supports the move despite statistics from her own department that show border crossings are near all-time lows right now.
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a retired Lt. Colonel with the Iowa National Guard, supports the decision as well. Ernst released this statement on Wednesday shortly after the White House announced its intentions:
“As a former National Guardsman and Chairman of the Emerging Threats Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee with jurisdiction over our nation’s homeland defense efforts, I support the President’s decision to send National Guard troops to the United States’ southern border, just as former presidents have done. The National Guard represents some of the best men and women we have, equipped and trained to tackle these challenges and assist the U.S. Border Patrol.
“The reality is, the border remains unsecured – meaning that drugs and crime continue to flow into the United States while illegal immigration and human trafficking flourish. We must act.
“Earlier this year, I co-sponsored the Secure and Succeed Act to implement the President’s framework for immigration and border security—and most importantly put into place the necessary resources and policies to secure our border to keep Americans safe. This legislation also provided a path forward for our DACA recipients which I have said time and again is greatly needed. Unfortunately, the Senate hasn’t gotten enough votes to move forward, and has left a gaping hole in the security of our border.
“The security of our borders is fundamental to our nation’s security. Given the lack of action, the President’s decision represents an immediate, commonsense step towards protecting Americans. President Trump understands how these additional assets can be helpful until Washington can move forward with a border security solution that will protect our families and communities.”
Sending National Guard troops to the border is not unprecedented. Both of Trump’s predecessors also did so, though the moves were criticized as costly and of limited effectiveness.
US law limits what the troops can do. Federal law prohibits the military from being used to enforce laws, meaning troops cannot actually participate in immigration enforcement. In the past, they’ve served in support roles like training, construction and intelligence gathering.
From 2006 to 2008, President George W. Bush deployed 6,000 guardsmen to southern border states, costing $1.2 billion and assisting with 11.7% of total apprehensions at the border and 9.4% of marijuana seized in that time.
From 2010 to 2012, President Barack Obama sent 1,200 guardsmen to the border to the tune of more than $110 million, and they assisted with 5.9% of the total apprehensions and 2.6% of the marijuana seizures on the border.