If border is porous, troops aren’t the way to fix it

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The Pentagon and independent military analysts say that by year’s end, we’re likely to have spent at least $200 million to send military units to our borders to repulse the “caravan” of migrants from Central America trying to reach the United States. The president may deploy as any as 15,000 active-duty troops to the border to help prevent the walkers — most of them fleeing horrible problems in Honduras — from reaching this country. That’s more soldiers than even the most generous estimates, by right-leaning groups, of the caravan’s size. Most observers are reporting half that or less.

Even though Fayetteville is far from the Mexican border, this is a local story. That’s because at least nine Fort Bragg units are part of the deployment to the border. They will include aviators, military police, medical personnel and logisticians. Federal law makes it clear that the one thing they won’t be able to do is take an active role in law enforcement. All they can do is provide support services, and some legal experts say even that should be out of the question.

The president’s deployment order has been decried by most Democrats as a blatantly political move that’s really meant to drive more Republicans to the polls than to serve any legitimate need at the border.

But let’s put the political rhetoric aside for a moment and look at the situation down there. It remains to be seen just how many of those refugees will ever reach the American border, but doubtless some will. While the rampant violence and economic chaos in their native countries should make them good candidates for refugee status in the United States, many will likely try to enter this country illegally. They need to be stopped. We shouldn’t have porous borders and while we’re encouraged by the steady decline in the numbers of illegal crossings, there are still too many.

If we really need to send as many at 15,000 soldiers to the Mexican border to repulse a ragtag band of refugees, there’s something terribly wrong with the security measures we have established at the Mexican border. Fixing it doesn’t mean a one-time infusion of military force. It needs a permanent fix.

And let’s be clear: What we don’t need is a 30-foot-high wall stretching from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico. That only real outcome of such a structure is a sales boom across Mexico for 40-foot ladders. For reference, check out how well the Great Wall protected China from the Mongols, who took over the country in the 13th century. What we really need is people and technology and it’s time to stop the name-calling and start creating the protection our nation needs. That $200 million we’re spending on not-especially-helpful military force on the border would be really helpful in the Border Patrol’s budget.

— The Fayetteville Observer

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