Thursday, May 18, 2006

Border deployment for National Guard a useless political gesture

I'm saddened and a little surprised by President Bush's ill-considered decision to place National Guard troops on the border. I seems SO cynical: As a security measure it's an excellent political gesture, but there's no pragmatic justification for the plan. Twice as many troops wouldn't be enough to halt immigration, and the nation can't afford to militarize the border indefinitely - after all, the Pentagon still needs soldiers to occupy Iraq. (My guess: troops on the border re-deploy right after the November elections.) Congress is already diverting money from Iraq to the southern border, now I guess we'll be diverting troops, too.

The scheme brings with it a truckload of practical problems: Soldiers aren't trained for the delicate task of parsing immigration status in the field or conducting searches under auspices of the Fourth Amendment.

Not to mention we've tried this before, though it seems like the Texans around Bush have awfully short memories. While Bush was Texas Governor, the U.S. deployed military troops to the Texas-Mexico border to fight the War on Drugs and the adventure ended disastrously. Don't believe me? Ask the family of Esequiel Hernandez, the teenage shepherd pictured above who was killed by a marine in 1997 near Redford on the Texas-Mexico border.

If it's true that history repeats itself - the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce - then we can look forward to an ugly, chaotic summer. Many of these troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and probably hoped they'd go home to see their families. Instead they'll spend the next few months soaking in the 100+ degree desert sun laden with miltiary gear. That should give a huge boost to troop morale, don't you think?

Will the National Guard employ the same rules of engagement on the border as troops were trained to abide by in Iraq and Afghanistan? If not, will they be re-trained? You've got to feel sorry for the Guard troops caught in the middle. Trained to fight in a real war, they're being deployed instead on a pointless highly, politicized exercise that's doomed to fail before it begins. Troops apparently won't be patrolling or making arrests but will play a "support" role. I don't know what that would even mean - that it's mostly for show, I guess. A big waste of time and money that achieves no public policy goal but symbolically placates the President's base.

The Senate, too, appears to be adopting a more xenophobic stance in light of the President's address - even including the ridiculous idea of building a wall.
Note to the US government engineering geniuses who must design this boondoggle: The border between Texas and Mexico is a river basin! Land will quickly erode underneath any wall you build after the first gullywasher. After a couple of years, nature would open up gaps with little human assistance. You could build with chain link, but folks would quickly and frequently cut it. Iron bars would be expensive, could be hacksawed, and would be hard to repair. Plus if contractors can't hire illegal immigrant labor, I doubt they can find enough workers to build or maintain it anyway! The whole idea's just dumber than dumb - an empty political gesture disguised as a public policy decision.

This is why I hope Texas NEVER switches to annual legislative sessions. Nothing good seems to happen when politicians make public policy in even numbered election years.


Anonymous said...

I agree that two times more wont help.

We need at LEAST 15000 troops.

I agree with Bill O'Reilly on this issue

Gritsforbreakfast said...

To protect us from what? Our housekeepers?

Anonymous said...

That's a pretty biased link to the shooting of the Mexican kid. You couldn't have picked a more fact based article instead of a propaganda piece?

Anonymous said...

You ACLU guys sat by and did nothing about the Texas National Guard's Counter Drug Task Force. Now they are going to be on steroids with this new budget burst for the mission of catching people as well as contraband.
Think of a huge statewide Byrne Immigrant Task Force....

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"you ACLU guys ... "

Hey, I've only got two hands!

I'll be looking at the links you posted before, though. Anything else you want to point me to now would be good, too. Better late than never.

Anonymous said...

Get your Open Records Act and FOIA letters ready to go. Get their budget and manning tables....follow the money.