Even though there are still more than 5,000 troops at the border from Trump's last deployment stunt, his administrations wants to send even more — just to fix up existing fencing.
Just before the election, Trump engaged in a massively expensive and racist antic, sending more than 5,000 troops to the border. He even kept them there for Thanksgiving, away from their families for no good reason. Now, the administration is at it again. The Department of Homeland Security has just made a request to deploy additional troops to the border to string a bunch of fencing wire.
The troops aren't even being deployed to build new fences. They're just going to string the wire along 160 miles of existing fencing. But the fact that they're working on existing fencing doesn't mean it's a short-term deployment; it could extend the military's current presence at the border to September, rather than the original end date of January 31.
Working on existing swaths of fencing doesn't necessarily mean that it is a small deployment either. A senior military official told NPR that it could involve thousands of additional troops besides the 5000 already stationed at the border.
The troop deployment has to be approved by the acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, who just replaced recently departed General James Mattis. Shanahan, however, isn't likely to put up much resistance. As deputy secretary of defense under Mattis, Shanahan spent a lot of time engaging in questionable behavior, like steering lucrative contracts to Boeing, the company he used to run. There's no real reason to think Shanahan has any interest in standing up to Trump in this instance.
Will Fischer, an Iraq War veteran and the director of government relations for VoteVets, lambasted the demand for additional troops: "The military isn't Donald Trump's construction crew, and it is unjustifiable and offensive that he's using them to mend fencing. There has already been plenty of money appropriated to fix up border fencing."
"Here's an idea, Mr. President: Rather than trying to organize military working parties, how about you stop holding government workers hostage over your stupid, racist wall and get the government reopened," Fischer said.
Shutdown or no, troops shouldn't be deployed to the border for yet another performance designed only to appeal to Trump's base.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.