Anti-Immigrant Obsession is About Securing His Base, Not the Border
Two experts — one a veteran military leader, one a veteran immigration policy expert — weigh in on Trump’s decision to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Admiral James Stavridis is a retired 4-star officer in the U.S. Navy, led the NATO Alliance as Supreme Allied Commander with responsibility for Afghanistan, Libya, the Balkans, Syria, piracy, and cyber security. He also served as Commander of U.S. Southern Command, with responsibility for all military operations in Latin America from 2006-2009.During a recent NPR interview, he criticized the deployment as a wasteful misuse of U.S. military capabilities.
- Marshall Fitz currently serves as the Managing Director of Immigration at the Emerson Collective, formerly headed up Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress and before that served as advocacy director for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He explains in a new Medium posthow the National Guard ploy fits into Trump’s larger efforts to activate his political base by focusing “all blame on the terrifying, criminal ‘other,’” noting that “sowing fear, anger, and division in communities across the country appears to be the central objective.”
Below, we offer excerpts from both.
Admiral Stavridis in response to a question asked by NPR host Steve Inskeep:
“There really isn’t a significant role for the military to play in that border, Steve. And before I was the NATO commander, I spent three years as commander of U.S. Southern Command, in charge of everything military south of the United States. And, frankly, the choice of active duty military National Guard on that border is an opportunity cost in the sense that we can no longer train and prepare for the actual mission of those troops, which is combat.
Secondly, these are combat troops. They’re trained to apply lethal force. That’s not what you want to do on the border. And thirdly, they don’t have the linguistic training necessary. They really can’t be culturally attuned the way Border Patrol agents are. So if there is a legitimate need for more people, which I don’t think because immigration levels are declining, not rising, and are at the lowest level in almost four years, then I think it makes more sense if you absolutely want to put more people on the border, put more Border Patrol agents there.”
Marshall Fitz in a must-read piece entitled, “Behold the Nation of Immigrants in the 21st Century (And Fear for the Fate of the Republic):”
“His speeches from the last few weeks also highlight that the demonization of immigrants will serve as his primary base galvanizing strategy again in 2018. In remarks to a crowd in West Virginia this week, he literally threw away his speech promoting the new tax law in order to revisit his bogus claims about Mexican rapists and massive immigrant voter fraud. As we’ve seen over the last three years, his go-to move for base activation is to trigger legitimate social and economic anxieties and focus all blame on the terrifying, criminal “other.”
While this cycle of fury and distraction should no longer surprise anyone, the scale and breadth of the administration’s recent assault on immigrants and refugees should alarm everyone. As Trump has finally internalized that he got outplayed by Democrats on the omnibus bill and that he lost his last, best chance to fund his big, beautiful wall, he has trained his wrath on immigrants with renewed vigor.
…Many of the policies and practices that his top advisors and unleashed agents are pursuing serve no legitimate public purpose. To the contrary, the breathtaking cruelty of some measures and the calculated disempowering effect of others, actively subvert core American values of decency, compassion, and pragmatism. The sheer volume of new initiatives makes it hard to digest the full extent and impact of the attacks. But sowing fear, anger, and division in communities across the country appears to be the central objective.”