It remains to be seen whether Trump asked for a specific number of troops to be sent in the wake of the massive migrant caravan barreling towards the border. What is discernibly true is that when the President gives James Mattis an order the Secretary of Defense executes it with laser beam like focus. If the President asked James Mattis to ensure the border is secure then we can be certain that James Mattis will do what it takes to make it so. The question really is how the United States plans to employ these assets to stop the migrant caravan. Truth be told, there are a list of mostly bad options from which to choose. All of which will cost the American taxpayer in some shape, fashion or form. However, it is an equal loss to have waves of unauthorized individuals pouring across the border with impunity. If you put Donald Trump and James Mattis in that lose/lose scenario, I have little doubt that they will choose the loss that provides good order, discipline and rule of law in the United States of America.
A List of Bad Options
The United States of America has for decades been a part of the international order that guarantees refugees and asylum seekers certain rights. This was first put into place through a 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees of which the United States remains a party to this day. In addition, many of these rules were codified into law through a 1990 Immigration and Naturalization Act. Were Trump to completely dismantle and disregard the laws on asylum it would most certainly be challenged in Federal Court. Moreover, given the propensity of political agents to challenge a Presidential directive in court they know will rule in their favor Trump’s actions are most certain to be overturned at least initially.
Another option would be for Trump to somehow stop the caravan from actually reaching the United States in order to initiate the asylum process. If he were to use the Military to do so that would require a cross border excursion and foreign nations are often less than thrilled to have neighboring militaries cross their border. The military could be used in an effort to round up any who cross the border and given the number of families it would again put forth the scene of children being detained and potentially separated from their parents. Whether a migrant crosses legally or illegally, the asylum process remains mostly the same. The options are all bad as there is a legitimate role for asylum in the world order and yet, the alternative seems worse.
Foreign Influence Trumps the Will of the People
The worst scenario would simply be the above statement. That the influence and actions of foreign actors trumps the will of the American people in their own country. Namely, that the overwhelming majority of Americans have shown a lack of support for this massive demanding style of asylum. While they might be empathetic to the cause of the migrant, something seems wrong about migrants by the thousands demanding access to the United States of America. These migrants have been offered asylum in Mexico, but they refused. Like a hitchhiker with a sign that reads “America or bust” they are imposing their will on the American people.
The duly elected President of the United States who has been charged with the defense of this nation has made it a national priority to prevent such actions. He has ordered the Secretary of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and Immigration officials to prevent the caravan from entering the United States. The American people support this move and yet, it may very well come to pass that sum of American strength and will is left defeated at the hands of foreign actors. This simply cannot be. A sovereign nation must be able to dictate its own course. If a sovereign nation is not allowed to decide who comes and goes across our border then it remains to be seen just how sovereign we are after all. There are terrible options that await our forces at the border. Yet, to be unable to enforce our own borders is an equal loss for the American people. If it is indeed a reality that America can do nothing to stop these migrants then it is perhaps time for the American people to change that reality.