President Trump’s administration announced on Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Defense Department will coordinate on a plan to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The move will not give the National Guard the authority to act as temporary Border Patrol agents, catching and detaining illegal aliens, but rather it allows troops to take on logistical jobs so that Border Patrol is given more manpower to focus on arresting illegal aliens.
The military operation at the border may shape up to be similar to that of President George W. Bush’s “Operation Jump Start,” where 6,000 National Guard troops were deployed to the southern border.
Bush’s Operation Jump Start ended with National Guardsmen contributing to more than 176,000 illegal aliens being apprehended and about 320,000 pounds of drugs being seized, as Buzz Jacobs mentioned.
Breitbart News’s Chris Burgard was on the ground in Hachita, New Mexico in 2005, revealing footage of the troops’ operation in aiding the Border Patrol at the time.
Experts tell Breitbart News that the military at the border to assist Border Patrol is only the beginning of a larger operation that can be done by the Trump administration to help reduce the flood of illegal aliens continuing to pour into the U.S.
This week, Trump has complained about a caravan of 1,500 Central Americans who are set to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to request asylum. As Breitbart News explained, current law does not give the U.S. the authority to turn the asylum-seekers back to Mexico.
The “Catch and Release” program, where border-crossers are caught by immigration officials and then released into the interior of the U.S. while they await trial — oftentimes never showing up to their court date — has continued and even been increased by Congress with the approval of Trump.
Former immigration judge Andrew Arthur tells Breitbart News that to unilaterally, temporarily end Catch and Release, the Trump administration could set up tent cities along the southern border, similar to what President Clinton did in the 1990s.
The National Guard, Arthur says, has the authority to construct the tents on the border, giving immigration officials temporary detention centers where illegal aliens and border-crossers can be housed while they await their immigration trials, rather than being released into the U.S.
“Putting up temporary structures, that’s part of what the military does,” Arthur told Breitbart News. “I believe they could do this as part of their training.”
While border-crossers are detained in the tent cities constructed by the military, the Trump administration could send additional immigration judges and staff to the border, as well as more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys. This, Arthur says, would speed up the court process and swiftly lead to border-crossers either being allowed to stay in the U.S. or being deported.
“With sufficient manpower, those cases can be heard in two months,” Arthur said.
Center for Immigration Studies Mark Krikorian told Breitbart News that troops alone on the border to assist Border Patrol is not exactly the answer to the broader issue of illegal immigration to the U.S.
Krikorian says legal loopholes that allow for border-crossers to readily claim asylum in the U.S. would need to be changed to prevent a future group of asylum-seekers — similar to the current 1,500 Central Americans traveling through Mexico — from bypassing asylum in Mexico and instead making their way into the U.S.
Nor does the National Guard on the border move forward Trump’s agenda of a border wall, though troops do have the authority to assist in building a wall.
Despite blaming Congress for blocking construction of a border wall, Trump recently signed a spending bill that barred him from building the wall using the prototypes he recently toured in the San Diego desert.
Staffers in his administration, such as Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, have failed to fight for border wall funding, even going so far as to cheer legislation that specifically bans the border wall.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.