Trump wants to send 'volunteers' to the border, whatever that means


The Trump administration is exploring sending a volunteer force to the southern border. No one knows who those volunteers will be or what they would do.

In one of the more alarming moves from an always-alarming administration, the Trump team is exploring the idea of sending a volunteer response team to the southern border to prop up Trump's fake emergency. Worst of all? No one seems to know who these "volunteers" would be.

It might be literal volunteers ‚— totally random people that want to go down to the border and "help." The problem is that the people most allured by Trump's hateful rhetoric about the border tend to be far-right vigilantes and unregulated militia members.

Perhaps mercifully, no one is even sure if it's possible to allow just anyone volunteer. One Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official said, "The lawyers are trying to figure out whether it's possible at all."

It could also be the "Surge Capacity Force" maintained by DHS. That's a group of volunteers — not from the general population, but from DHS and other federal agencies — who are used during catastrophic incidents like hurricanes and floods. They're basically used when FEMA is stretched too thin, like during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. But there's no record of them having been used for non-catastrophic occurrences.

No matter how Trump tries to spin it, there is no border crisis. Yes, illegal border crossings have been rising of late, but they remain drastically below their peaks in the 1990s and early 2000s. Trump's national emergency declaration is entirely unnecessary, but that isn't stopping him from demanding more and more people go to the border to participate in this charade.

Last Thanksgiving, he kept troops away from their family, having them instead perform the vital task of shoveling horse manure at the border. Approximately 4,500 troops have been at the border since October 2018 and are scheduled to remain until September 2019. They're busy doing things like stringing concertina wire.

An additional volunteer force is not just unneeded — it's outrageous. At best, it would serve just to prop up Trump's lie that there is a national emergency at the border. At worst, it could be comprised of people who would actively harm immigrants. No matter what, it's a terrible idea.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.