The president of the Border Patrol Union says deploying National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border has been nothing short of “a colossal waste of resources,” barely a month after Trump authorized the decision.
Brandon Judd told the Los Angeles Times that while the agency was initially excited at the prospect of the National Guard easing border agents’ workload, that enthusiasm quickly waned.
“When I found out the National Guard was going to be on the border I was extremely excited,” Judd said. “[But] we have seen no benefit.”
According to Border Patrol Acting Chief Carla Provost, the National Guard troops were being paired with law enforcement agents or being used behind the scenes — in contrast to their deployments in 2010 and 2014, where they were sent to the front line.
“They were allowed to do a lot more [in 2010 and 2014] than they are under the Trump administration,” Judd said. “They were allowed to be in lookout and observation posts. They were allowed to be out grading the roads and mending fences. They were allowed to be our eyes and ears, freeing us up.”
“They aren’t out in the field like last time, doing the observation posts,” read a text message from another agent, which Judd shared. “So if the goal was to get more agents out to the line they have fallen short.”
The Trump administration initially made a song-and-dance about ordering the deployment of 4,000 National Guard troops to discourage border crossings, although that number later fell to 1,600. The president also used a “caravan” of migrants making its way through Mexico in March and April as a chance to tweet for two days straight about the need for a stronger border and the necessity of sending troops to guard civilians.
But in between fear-mongering about border security and labeling immigrants “animals,” Trump appeared to ignore on-the-ground data showing that, in 2017, border crossings had dropped to an all-time low. Border communities, who have to deal with the reality of immigration every day, also contested the idea that their communities needed troop protection in what was already a sharply-militarized border.
“El Paso is safer than Washington D.C., than Chicago, than most of the country’s major cities,” Fernando Garcia, executive director for the Border Network for Human Rights, told ThinkProgress. “But they still insist that we need walls, that we need to militarize the border.”
“[Gov.] Abbott didn’t bother to listen to…border residents, even after people protested to remind him this is not a war zone and that more troops are not welcome,” said Dani Marrero Hi, director of bilingual multimedia platform Neta Rio Grande Valley.
She added, “This is our home, not a playground for political games.”