The number of migrants crossing through the Mexico border is set to hit a two-decade high, presenting a grave problem to Biden’s administration.
Northern Commander Air Force General Glen VanHerck believes that the National Guard will keep supporting border security even after Sept. 30, when the deployment was originally scheduled to end. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will soon decide what to do.
“Border security is national security… It will be the secretary’s decision going forward… There is a request on the street to ask for additional support. Ultimately, the secretary of defense will make a risk assessment supporting and continuing the mission on the border,” VanHerc said in a statement.
Presently, 3,500 members of the National Guard from 22 states have been deployed at the border to support the Department of Homeland Security and Customs (DHS) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The troops are not directly involved in border enforcement activities.
Instead, they perform other functions, such as detecting migrants who cross the border and alerting CBP, offering air support and monitoring through 24 helicopters, and extending ground support by maintaining vehicles that allow the CBP and DHS to focus on doing their jobs.
Since late 2018, thousands of troops have been stationed on the southern border, with more than 5,800 during peak deployment. In 2019, Trump declared a national emergency to secure funding to build a border wall and broke norms by deploying active-duty troops on the border.
Many lawmakers criticized Trump’s policies as a financial drain on the government. The Government Accountability Office calculated the total cost of troop deployment between 2018 and 2020 at $841 million. Though Biden ended the national emergency, the Pentagon continues to retain troops along the border.
The immigration crisis also brings about greater criminal activity. At a recent Senate Armed Services Committee, Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, stated that the Drug Enforcement Agency cites Chinese money laundering as the top funding source of transnational criminal organizations. Their illegal trafficking of weapons, humans, and drugs claim thousands of lives every year. These criminal organizations drive illegal migration and allow bad actors, like communist China, to grow their influence.
Pressure on Biden
The border crisis adds pressure to the Biden administration, especially the burgeoning numbers of child migrants. Thousands of such unaccompanied minors have been detained on the border.
During the Trump administration, such children would be turned away. But the Biden administration has allowed kids to cross into the country, placing a large number of children into federal custody.
Thousands of minors live in terrible conditions at border facilities, which the press often called “cages” during the previous administration. These facilities are overrun beyond their capacities. Biden’s White House has declined to call the immigration issue a border crisis and blamed former President Trump for the situation. However, immigration advocates ask Biden to take responsibility rather than blame Trump.
“The unaccompanied minors need space, and we know it’s a concern because of the pandemic… But at this point, we can no longer blame the Trump administration. We need the Biden administration to come up with a plan and take responsibility and work with border communities so that we can manage what’s happening here,” Dylan Corbett, the executive director of the Hope Border Institute, told America Magazine.