The Morning Jolt


A Ridiculous Effort to Blame Trump for ‘Border Security Theater’

Asylum-seeking migrants are taken to a van after they crossed into El Paso, Texas, May 14, 2021. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

On the menu today: A Democratic governor agrees to send 125 National Guard soldiers from his state to help with border security, in accordance with the request that the Biden-appointed secretary of homeland security made to the Biden-appointed secretary of defense, and an MSNBC commentator looks at it all and sees a sinister Republican plot. Meanwhile, the Washington media start to notice that President Ice-Cream-Connoisseur doesn’t actually do all that much, and a well-traveled columnist declares it is now time to restrict unnecessary travel.

Why Would Democratic Officials Carry Out GOP ‘Border Security Theater’?

Over at the NBC News website, Hayes Brown fumes that “Trump’s border security theater hasn’t ended — it’s gotten worse. Now GOP governors are sending National Guard members to Texas and Arizona as political props.”

First, it’s amazing that former president Donald Trump is managing to “worsen” “border security theater” almost six months after leaving office. Trump no longer holds any authority over any portion of the military, U.S. National Guard, or Border Patrol officers or policies. If he did, things would be quite different.

Nine paragraphs into his argument, Brown gets around to mentioning the fact that on May 12, the Department of Homeland Security requested that the Defense Department “extend DoD support to Customs and Border Protection into fiscal year 2022.” The Department of Homeland Security, headed by Biden’s appointed secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, doesn’t see the mission as using those troops as political props. Nor does defense secretary Lloyd Austin; a few days ago, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that Austin had approved extending the use of up to 3,000 DOD personnel to support the Southwest-border mission into the next fiscal year.

And as for the notion that it is GOP governors who are sending National Guard members to Texas and Arizona as political props,” this morning brings word that “approximately 125 soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard will mobilize this fall for a year-long deployment to the southwest U.S. border. The 229th Engineer Company from Prairie du Chien and Richland Center is going there as part of a federal deployment. They’re assisting with what Guard officials are calling ‘non-law enforcement activities’ assisting U.S. Customs and Border Protection.” There is little reason to think that Democratic Wisconsin governor Tony Evers would be interested in having his state’s National Guard troops assist in “border security theater” and be used as “political props.”

Brown charges that the National Guard deployments just represent governors maneuvering for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem are likely to be campaigning for the GOP nomination for president in 2024, you can bet these token deployments will play a big part in campaign ads and stump speeches.”

Except . . . Ohio governor Mike DeWine, nobody’s idea of a frothing-at-the-mouth xenophobe and a guy with no indication of any interest in running for president in 2024, announced that 185 members of the Ohio Army National Guard will be deployed to help Customs and Border Protection. North Dakota’s GOP governor Doug Burgum is sending 125 soldiers from a Bismarck-based National Guard unit. Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson is sending 40 members of his state’s National Guard. Clearly, it isn’t just presidential ambition that is spurring governors to send their National Guard troops to assist in border-patrol efforts.

Despite the insistence of Brown and other progressives, there’s a bipartisan recognition that the waves of migrants coming across the border represent a security problem, and the U.S. National Guard can play a role in mitigating the serious challenges there. This is not “militarizing” our southern border, this is not combat, and this is not a posse comitatus situation. The National Guard units are mostly watching monitors and scopes, as Texas Public Radio detailed:

In a darkened room inside the McAllen border patrol station, a couple of National Guard troops are bathed in violet glare. Ahead of them is a wall of screens, each displaying camera feeds from different parts of the border.

Machines beep intermittently and fuzzy radio transmissions echo throughout the room.

Using motion sensors and control towers, the Guard can see vehicles, terrain and occasionally people. Every so often, they spot something suspicious, like someone hauling drug bundles or trying to cross the border illegally. Then they’ll report it to the border patrol.

. . . Along the border itself, National Guard personnel also operate scope trucks — pickups with raised cameras in their beds — used to monitor border activity. Aside from manning those trucks in high-traffic areas, they also clear roads for the border patrol, help fix their equipment and perform administrative tasks.

Of course, information such as this doesn’t fit the narrative of big, bad, scary Republican governors sending the military to the border in a frenzy of xenophobic rage.

In a few days, we will get the numbers for how many migrants CBP caught at the Southwest border in June. It may not be as high as May’s 180,000, but it will be high. Yesterday, CBP announced that:

Sunday morning, McAllen Border Patrol Station (MCS) agents encountered 90 migrants after they illegally entered the United States through Hidalgo, Texas. Within minutes, 28 more subjects entered behind them. The group of 118 migrants consisted of 75 family members, 15 unaccompanied children, and 28 single adults. The migrants are from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua.

Yesterday evening, MCS agents working near Mission, Texas, observed a large group of migrants illegally enter the United States. Agents apprehended 115 migrants and identified 68 as family members, 40 as unaccompanied children, and 7 as single adults. The migrants are citizens of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.

And elsewhere on the border:

Hours later, Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station agents were processing a Salvadoran national when they discovered he is a Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang member. He was apprehended shortly after illegally entering the United States in Roma, Texas. A short while later, MCS agents working in Hidalgo, Texas, apprehended a group of 89 migrants, mainly composed of families. Agents processing the migrants, identified a male Salvadoran national as a Mara Salvatrucha gang member.

And elsewhere on the border:

Coast Guard riverine units patrolling near Mission, Texas, encountered a raft with nine subjects, including a 9-month-old infant and two unaccompanied children, being pushed off the Mexican riverbank by smugglers. The raft was partially deflated and immediately began to submerge under water. Having no life jackets or oars, the migrants began yelling for help. The Coast Guard crewmen were able to safely pull them onto their vessel. The migrants were turned over to the McAllen Border Patrol Station agents. The migrants were assessed and did not require any medical treatment.

Yesterday evening, a female migrant ran towards McAllen Border Patrol Station agents and claimed she just escaped from her attacker. The female Honduran national entered the country illegally with her husband and young child. The brush guide separated the woman from her family and told them to hide in a different area. When alone with the female, the brush guide forced her to the ground and tore her pants and shirt. The woman began yelling and fighting back and was able to escape and find her husband. The female was medically assessed and taken into Border Patrol custody. An investigation with local law enforcement officials was initiated. The suspect was not located.

Additionally, 70 subjects were discovered inside a commercial tractor trailer at the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint.

And that’s just on the border in Texas this past weekend.

The National Media Start to Notice That Biden Doesn’t Really Do Much

It’s a rather funny start to Politico’s Playbook newsletter, which notes that Biden has spoken about the Delta variant and the infrastructure plan, and is scheduled to receive updates on Afghanistan and Russian cyber-attacks. Politico asks, “Across all four issues, one question hangs over Biden: Is he doing enough?

If you feel the need to ask that question, that answers the question, doesn’t it?

But hey, that latest ransomware attack could have been anyone! “Cybersecurity researchers have discovered that the malware that delivered the REvil ransomware on thousands of computers managed by Kaseya VSA, was designed to avoid infecting computers in countries which are the principal members of the Commonwealth of Independent States” — that is, Russia and the countries that made up the former Soviet Union.

When we see headlines such as, “Could Ransomware Become a Geopolitical Weapon?” doesn’t it seem like it is one already?

ADDENDUM: Farhad Manjoo of the New York Times says that, “Tourism should not return to anything like its old, profligate normal. The pandemic has presented the world with an opportunity to reset how we tour this planet, and we should reach for it. . . . Some people can afford to travel to Europe every year, maybe even several times a year. I’m not one for flight shaming, but that level of indulgence ought to earn some measure of social opprobrium . . . Cruises present an even better target for radical reform, if not outright prohibition.”

It’s time for people to stop traveling, declared the South African-born, Cornell-attending, former Salon, former Wired, former Slate, former Wall Street Journal tech columnist with the Instagram account full of photos from his past trips, who has spoken at conferences such as SXSW and CES, and who is available for public-speaking gigs.

He has seen the world, and so now it is time to restrict other people’s ability to go out and see the world.


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