After going on intense anti-immigration rants over Easter, Trump now wants to deploy the army at the Mexican border. While it may be concerning that the president's views on immigration and Mexico are getting increasingly aggressive, Trump's idea to militarize the Mexican border is actually very much part of America's political history.
While speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Trump said that he would choose military presence at the Mexican border in the interim as his once-described "impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall" is made. "Until we can have a wall and proper security we're going to be guarding our border with the military. That's a big step," Trump said. He also noted that he shared the idea with Defense Secretary James Mattis. The president said,
I told Mexico, and I respect what they did, I said, look, your laws are very powerful, your laws are very strong. We have very bad laws for our border and we are going to be doing some things, I spoke with [James Mattis], we're going to do some things militarily.
Trump went on to say, "We cannot have people flowing into our country illegally, disappearing, and by the way never showing up for court."
As the history writer Matt M. Matthews noted in The U.S. Army On The Mexican Border: A Historical Perspective, American militaristic expeditions involving the Mexican border can be dated back to 1845. At the time, Matthews writes that the United States' Army of Observation and Army of Occupation conducted the war between both states. He notes that the conflict led to the formation of the controversial border itself.
There's more. The historian mentions that military presence along the Mexican border also took place in 1911 to 1917 under then-president William Howard Taft. For history buffs, there's a New York Times report on it with photos of Taft meeting Mexican leaders.
In the 1950s, the United States deployed military presence along the border while former president Dwight D. Eisenhower was in power. And during Obama's administration, there was military presence at the border while Congress passed the Secure Fence Act in 2006. The plan was to build a "secure" fence along the border to "protect" Americans.
While some may be worried about the idea of American military dotting the line and a possible uptick in anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, Trump's screed against immigrants is just one of his latest episodes. Shortly before Easter church service, Trump aired anti-immigration views in front of the press on Sunday.
He slammed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a policy formulated under Barack Obama's administration in 2012 and vowed that it would be ended. The policy works as a temporary measure against deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as kids. On Easter, he tweeted,
Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch and Release. Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!
The president also said that he would pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico didn't increase border security. At this moment, Trump hasn't specified how he would go about militarizing the border. There was no mention of which service command would go down south to presumably guard it. But it is clear that it's a subject that he has mulled over at considerable length. According to two anonymous sources who recently spoke with CNN, Trump has suggested that the United States military even cover the bill for his border wall.