Commentary: Faith leaders with NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fe (CAFé) are condemning the Trump Administration’s announced plans to deploy the National Guard along the U.S.-Mexico Border and are charging this Administration with further escalating its war on immigrants and Border Communities.
Deploying the National Guard to the southern border is not unprecedented. Both Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama deployed the National Guard to the southern border, but these deployments were heavily criticized for being wasteful, ineffective and dangerous to a region already reeling from the billions spent in recent decades militarizing border communities. Any talk about deploying troops to the southern border region is a great concern to border communities who have been living under the boot of border militarization for generations.
Johana Bencomo, Director of Organizing for NM CAFé says, “President Trump’s decision to send troops to our southern border feels different than similar decisions by past Presidents. This Administration has shown a clear pattern of targeting and scapegoating immigrants based on their race. It is not a response to a security threat but a political response to keep his base of voters happy. To threaten military forces and mobilize the National Guard for political purposes is inhumane, wasteful, and dangerous for the 15 million people who call the Borderlands home. Our Borderlands need no help from anyone in defining who we are. We define ourselves”
Despite Trump’s claims of uncontrolled borders, unauthorized migration at the southern border is at a 46-year low. Across the southern border region, Border Patrol agents are apprehending less than two unauthorized immigrants per agent per month. Most apprehensions in 2017 were children and families. Pastor Nema LeCuyer of the El Calvario Methodist Church states, “Asylum-seekers from Central America, requesting protection in Mexico or the United States, is a humanitarian challenge, not a security threat. I have seen and heard firsthand the challenges and stories that these migrant families are facing. The threat of death is real for these children of God and we must respond with compassion not militarization.”
Border residents will continue to call for more policies that revitalize our communities, not militarize them. We need investments in roads, schools, and infrastructure that benefit families that work hard and contribute to the growth and character of our country.