In an attack on the democratic rights of the entire working class, late Wednesday night the Biden administration announced that it would deploy an additional 800 active-duty soldiers to join the 2,500 National Guard soldiers currently patrolling the border, mostly in Texas and Arizona. According to the White House, the soldiers will assist 24,000 Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents and 2,600 non-uniformed officers who are already deployed.
This is the second time in the last five months that the Biden administration has ordered a mass deployment of soldiers to the southern border. In May, the administration announced the deployment of 1,500 troops to join the federalized National Guard soldiers who have been deploying to the border since early 2018.
The administration has been quick to point out that the troops will not be engaged in directly apprehending migrants. Instead, they will oversee watchtowers and “process” migrants at holding facilities, freeing up CPB and Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) forces to accost and harass migrants.
Prior to the 1980s, US military personnel rarely deployed to the border. An exception was the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910 and lasted through 1920. However, beginning with President Ronald Reagan and the “war on drugs,” US military personnel were increasingly deployed to the border to “assist” police in immigrant and drug interdiction.
The war on immigrants, including the use of the military to patrol the border, is a bipartisan policy. In 2006, President George W. Bush launched Operation Jump Start, which began a pattern of successive US presidents, including Obama, Trump and Biden, authorizing mass deployments of soldiers to the border. The Brennan Center notes that the current federal mission at the border was first authorized by President Trump in 2018, under the name “Operation Guardian Support.”
“[I]t has been continued for more than two years by the Biden administration,” wrote the Brennan Center this past May, “which dropped the name ‘Guardian Support’ but otherwise shows no signs of winding the mission down.”
Many migrants crossing the border without authorization do so only because they have been denied any legal path to enter the country. On Friday, CNN reported that in interviews with dozens of migrants crossing the border at Eagle Pass, Texas, many said they had been waiting “months” for their digital applications filed with the CPB One system to be either approved or denied.
The deployment of soldiers to the border is partly in response to thousands of migrants, mostly families and workers from Venezuela, attempting to cross the US-Mexico border in the last week. On Wednesday, the mayor of Eagle Pass declared a “state of emergency” due to the influx of immigrants.
Coinciding with the deployment of soldiers, the Biden administration announced it would be extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to the roughly half-million Venezuelans who migrated to the country before July 31, 2023, along with immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. Those eligible for TPS can apply for a work permit and protection from deportation, for a fee.
Anti-immigrant policies, first enacted under Trump and continued under Biden, have had deadly consequences for hundreds, if not thousands, of human beings, including children, in the last year. On Thursday, police near Eagle Pass said they recovered the body of a man, believed to be in his 40s or 50s, floating in the water near an inhumane marine barrier that features razor blades. While the man did not have any identification, police said they were “confident” he was an immigrant.
The day before, on Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that a three-year-old boy died when his family tried to cross the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass. According to police, as the family was trying to cross the river, the boy was swept away in the current and drowned.
In an interview on Fox News with Laura Ingraham, Lt. Chris Olivarez, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, confirmed that a 10-year-old child had died crossing the border the week prior.
Under President Biden and unified Democratic control of Congress, the US-Mexico border in 2022 was “the deadliest land route for migrants worldwide on record,” according to a report released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which is part of the United Nations.
The IOM documented “686 deaths and disappearances of migrants on the US-Mexico border in 2022,” which represents “nearly half of the 1,457 migrant deaths and disappearances recorded throughout the Americas in 2022.” In its statement, IOM notes the figure is likely an undercount, “due to missing official data, including information from Texas border county coroner’s offices and the Mexican search and rescue agency.”
“The fact that we know so little about migrants who disappear in the Americas is a grim reality,” said Marcelo Pisani, IOM regional director for South America. “The impacts on the families left behind to search endlessly for a lost loved one are profound.”
Not a single Democrat, including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Democratic Socialists of America, has attacked or even publicly questioned Biden’s further militarization of the border.
While Democrats remain silent, fascistic Republicans are howling over Biden and the Department of Homeland Security granting TPS protection to Venezuelan migrants who have been here in some cases for years, yet unable to legally work.
Fascist Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, and frequent Fox News guest, railed against TPS on the Laura Ingraham show, characterizing it as “lifelong forever amnesty.”
“The purpose of this initiative,” Miller hissed, “is to accelerate the already record-breaking illegal immigration into this country.” Miller then echoed the “Great Replacement” fascist conspiracy theory, telling Ingraham:
The sheer numbers, I have never seen anything like it. This is a slow-moving, purposeful, encouraged, invasion of the country happening. That’s what’s happening. Everyone can say, “That’s not what’s happening. That’s rude…” That’s what you call it.
Speaking in front of roughly 1,000 people on Wednesday, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump once again promised that if elected he would reinstate his travel ban and expand it to “deny entry to all communists and Marxists to the United States.”
Trump added that he would “invoke immediately the Alien Enemies Act to remove all known or suspected gang members … the drug dealers, the cartel members, from the United States, ending the scourge of illegal alien gang violence once and for all.”
The Alien Enemies Act was infamously used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II to deny entry and detain thousands of mostly Japanese, but also German and Italian individuals.