By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Now that the dust has finally settled, and Democrats have assumed some semblance of power (both on the state and federal levels), Donald Trump is up to his usual ploy: purveying false and misleading information for pure political advantage. Smarting privately from his recent midterm debacle, Trump is once again stoking the flames of hatred and division as he conjures up this bogus perception of an impending immigrant invasion.
Unfortunately, Trump’s lunacy doesn’t end there. President Trump has extended the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border into January rather than having withdrawn the personnel in the middle of December. The move further extends the rare deployment of active-duty troops at the Mexico border, rather than just National Guard personnel.
According to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the troops are meant to support Customs and Border Protection agents and provide logistical help—everything from installing barbed wire to moving personnel to where they’re needed. The troops include military engineers and military police, who are supposed to leave any actual law enforcement duties to CBP officials.
In addition to the 5,900 active-duty personnel, the Trump administration has sent 2,100 National Guard troops to the border. And, in typical Trump fashion, he has opted to double-down on his response to this imaginary threat. Trump has expanded the authority of Defense Secretary Mattis to include the use of force, even lethal, in defense of Border Patrol personnel.
Never satisfied, Trump plans to use one of his old tactics: outright extortion. Trump is now pushing for $5 billion in U.S. funding for his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border—despite his repeated campaign pledge to force Mexico to fund the barrier. Democrats appear reluctant to agree to that sum, the biggest remaining sticking point in the talks. Trump reportedly told congressional Republicans on Tuesday that he will not back down from the $5 billion demand.
In truth, Trump has been spoiling for a fight over the wall for more than a year. As the potential political damage of a shutdown has lessened after the midterm elections, Trump now appears increasingly willing to let funding lapse in order to make a political statement.
It remains to be seen if Trump gains any political advantage from playing the immigration card at this point. After all, the GOP just lost 39 House seats in the Nov. 6 elections, when the president made the immigrant caravan his closing message. But Donald Trump is bent on doing what he does best: continuing his racist, divisive rant.