In an effort to stop illegal immigration into the country, President Donald Trump decided last week to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The situation at the border has now reached a point of crisis,” Trump said in a memo on Wednesday. “The lawlessness that continues at our southern border is fundamentally incompatible with the safety, security and sovereignty of the American people. My Administration has no choice but to act.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security justified Trump’s decision by pointing to a recent surge in apprehensions at the border.
“The number of illegal border crossings during the month of March shows an urgent need to address the ongoing situation at the border,” DHS Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said in a statement. “We saw a 203 percent increase from March 2017 compared to March 2018 and a 37 percent increase from last month to this month — the largest increase from month to month since 2011.”
However, some experts argue the latest surge does not necessarily equate to “crisis.”
“I think it’s purely a political move,” said Elissa Steglich, immigration law clinical professor. “Certainly, we are seeing record low unlawful border crossings, and so there is no emergency or crisis or immediate need to increase support at the border.”
The DHS reported apprehending 37,393 people at the border last month. According to Vox, in the month before President George W. Bush sent the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border in 2006, 126,538 people were apprehended.
In 2010, there were 55,237 apprehensions at the border in the month before President Barack Obama deployed Guardsmen.
Border Patrol measures unlawful border crossings by counting the number of people apprehended trying to illegally enter the U.S., according to Vox.
Steglich said what sets Trump’s move to send troops to the border apart from his predecessors’ is his “America First” ideology.
“In part, he’s sending a domestic message; a message to his base,” Steglich said. “It follows many of the xenophobic and racist messages he has sent that ‘We are America — meaning white America — First.’ This mentality results in really diminishing both the immigrants who are already here and those who we have traditionally opened the doors to and welcomed.”
Texas became the first state to comply with Trump’s request when Gov. Greg Abbott deployed a handful of troops Friday and pledged to send more in coming weeks.
“My top priority as Governor is ensuring the safety and security of Texans, and securing our southern border has always been essential to that mission,” Abbott said in a statement following Trump’s announcement. “Today’s action by the Trump Administration reinforces Texas’ longstanding commitment to secure our southern border and uphold the Rule of Law, and I welcome the support.”
Abbott pledged Monday to gradually increase the number of Texas Guardsman to “more than 1,000.” Among the U.S. border states, “the goal is to have at least 4,000 deployed here in about a month or two,” Abbott said in a radio interview with KTSA, according to ABC News.
By Tuesday, all of the border states with the exception of California had deployed National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico Border.