Obama Deploys Troops to Mexican Border

President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday that he would be deploying 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border to beef up security along the Río Bravo. This surprise move has garnered criticism from immigrant rights supporters, who argue that it will dehumanize and endanger immigrant and Latino communities.

Julianne Hing at RaceWire offers more details on the plan, reporting that an extra $500 million has also been allocated to law enforcement along the border.

“Obama is reportedly asking for these troop increases in anticipation of Republicans’ demands on a war spending bill this week,” Hing writes. “But Obama’s already outpaced his predecessors in spending on border security and military presence at the border.”

With the militarization of the border there is a heightened sense of danger not only for immigrants, but also for residents. It’s happened before. Esequiel Hernández, a US citizen and high school student, was wrongfully killed by Marines 13 years ago, near the border in Texas after increased militarization.

The deportation race

Even more disheartening, John Morton, Assistant Secretary for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, boasted that deportations of undocumented immigrants had already increased by 40 percent this year alone, and were sure to surpass last year’s total of 400,000, according to Suzy Khimm at Mother Jones.

“At the same time, a breakdown of the deportation numbers makes it clear that it’s not just criminal immigrants that federal immigration officials are targeting,” Khimm  writes. “There’s been a small decrease in the number of non-criminal immigrants who’ve been deported, but they still make up a large majority of deportations.”

A storm of civil disobedience

In response to inaction on immigration reform and the increased enforcement, a civil disobedience campaign to pressure ICE and the White House to stop deportations continues. At the Real News Network, Jesse Freeston documents the growing civil disobedience relating to immigration reform, which at the beginning of the month included 35 protesters sitting down “in front of the White House fence, where they were eventually arrested. This included [Democratic] Congressman Luis Gutiérrez of Chicago, who has been heavily critical of the president’s inaction on these issues.”

Immigrant rights advocates in New York City demonstrated outside of Federal Plaza this week, with more than 35 people peacefully arrested. These demonstrations follow arrests in Washington DC, Seattle and Arizona for similar actions.

AlterNet notes that those arrested in New York included state assembly member Adriano Espaillat, City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, and dozens of other reform allies with unions, churches and community groups.

Consequences looming large

Make no mistake — there are political consequences for states like Arizona, where ultra right-wing politicians have passed new laws targeting undocumented immigrants. As Steve Benen writes in the Washington Monthly, Latino voters in Colorado and Arizona are quickly moving to support Democratic candidates.

Benen reports that a new “NBC/MSNBC/Telemundo poll shows a similar trend at the national level, where ‘Latinos, once a semi-swing group of voters, now have swung overwhelmingly for President Obama and the Democratic Party, and younger Hispanics are moving to the Democrats in even greater numbers.’”

‘Skin heads and Nazis’

On a different front, former Colorado Congressman and anti-immigrant polemic Tom Tancredo is apparently too radical for many anti-immigrant groups. Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), a national right-wing group that has linked Latinos and immigrants to rapists and murders on its website, parted ways with the ex-lawmaker.

ALIPAC has pulled out of June 5 anti-immigration rally in Phoenix, citing Tancredo’s supposed connections to white power groups, according to John Tomasic at The Colorado Independent.

Tomasic writes that “[ALIPAC director] William Gheen, who has battled accusations of racist associations in the past, explained that he had raised concerns with Tancredo about event organizer Dan Smeriglio, an activist with long unabashed ties to ‘skin heads and Nazis,’ as Gheen put it.”

Great power, many responsibilities

In light of increased enforcement, The Uptake has video of Obama explaining his position on immigration reform. “Government has a responsibility to secure the border and enforce laws,” Obama said. “Washington has an obligation to set clear, common-sense rules, including rules that no longer punish and divide families that are doing the right thing and following the law.”

But Yes! Magazine columnist Kety Esquivel cites different responsibilities. “If history has taught us anything, it is that once human rights are eroded — once we allow ourselves to overlook the humanity of certain groups of people — we have stepped onto a slippery slope,” she writes. “If no one stands up to the injustice, the erosion of human rights continues.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.


Call on Congress to overhaul an immigration system that is unfair and failing us all. Sign the petition today!

photo credit: thanks to The National Guard via flickr
by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger


M. Ghost Dancer W.

I firmly believe that if you want to come to this country, you should do it legally. We have always been the country of refuge to those who needed it, but we have laws and they MUST be enforced.

Some of you may not agree with me, but punishing young people who were brought here by their parents, before they had the age of knowledge or consent, who have abided by our laws, gotten good educations, worked hard, have been contributing members of our commitiees and country; should NOT be punished for their efforts.

We need to protect our borders, ourselves, our communities and country from those who have criminal records (many violent), choose to be part of the drug cartels and violence, who come here with the intent to bring harm to us, who are part of terrorist organizations (which we know has happened). Creator forbid, in light of the recent situation world wide, that a terrorist attempt were to be made acoss our borders, these men and women are there, trained to respond quickly.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

John S.
Past Member 6 years ago

How hard is it to come up with a sensible plan? As an American married to a British citizen for 15 years, demonstrated with a marriage certificate and tax forms why do I have to apply for a green card if we are to move to the USA? I've worked in 12 European countries, on work papers or based on my Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa from the UK, and as a contractor (consultant) have been verified by more than 45 companies that I am authorized to work there, how hard would it be for work places in the US to verify. Keeping the issue alive is a way to garnish votes, and that is all it is seen as by both the democrats and republicans.

Stephen G.
Jason T7 years ago

Dave Tohunga you think the Native Americans destruction was Karma? Maybe your insane? The Native Americans rarely resorted to violence. And had they used none, the colonist would have overrun them all the faster. You think the colonist would abandon their "manifest destiny" because the "subhumans" weren't putting up a fight? Bullcrap.

Peace is not always the answer. Duh. Nature is violent to a degree. No use cowardly denying that and attempting to hide behind peace. The Native Americans should have rallied against the colonist and showed them real violence (Yes, like the Na'vi) and kicked their butts off a continent they didn't belong on.

The Native Americans were the only large group of peoples on Earth left to be to live truly sustainable lives. Their destruction was a tragedy, not Karma.

Dave Tohunga
Dave te tohunga7 years ago

Is it rude of me to point out that the native peoples of the north American continent attempted to use force to prevent illegal immigrant refugees from Europe?
Those illegal immigrants over-ran the native peoples after establishing a foothold on the east coast with a 'mere' 13 colonies. The use of violence to prevent illegal European immigration simply resulted in the genocide of the native peoples.
Ironic how the worm turns, is it karma?
Curiously Canadians aren't flooding over their border into the US ,but they have universal free health care, a minimum wage, a decent education system etc etc.
Will Canadians have to close their borders when Americans illegally flood over the border as the US economy collapses, chaos ensues and martial law is declared? Given the levels of taxes Americans will have to pay for bank bail outs, foreign wars it has instigated, corporate welfare, environmental disaster clean up funding, etc some people tout this scenario...
Empirical history seems composed of repeating patterns, the same mistakes made by humans over and over...
How sad we are, i sometimes think, then i commune with nature and my joie de vivre is restored.
If the 'richest most powerful nation in the history of the world' has 40% of it's citizens living in abject poverty, the highest prison population per capita in the world, yet funds it's military more than the entire rest of the world put together, is that a sign something is seriously amiss with the American Dream?

Roger H.
.7 years ago

How much is it going to help, sending 1200 administrative National Guard personnel that are going to sit at a desk. He didn't say that they were going to patrol the borders. They are going to be shuffling paper.

Talia P.
Talia P7 years ago

I've heard it a lot before, and I'll sure say it, too, but we missed a major opportunity after 9/11. I mean, we'd been attacked, and if they'd thought about it, Bush could've shut down the borders and put up tough enforcement right off the bat, and NOBODY would've blamed him for it--we needed to stop everything and get a handle on the situation. But it didn't happen. ugh.

There're so many arguments running about as far as immigrant rights and such. We're a nation of immigrants, I know, but we're LEGAL ones, too. Illegal immigrants need to come in legally, and if they won't, there must be some big reason and its one we probably don't want on our doorstep. If they're legal, I have no issues. But they've gotta do it right to be considered LAW ABIDING CITIZENS of this country. I mean, you cross borders illegally in other countries, you're jailed, shot, or never heard from again for crying out loud. We need major deterrence on the borders to prevent illegal crossings, and i'll give props to obama for at least taking a step that way--need more, but its a step. better yet, get the national guard back from Iraq and post them there...hell, their mission's in the title as it is!

Vicky B.
Vicky B.7 years ago

I agree with the majority of the comments posted here & fail to see why it benefits the American public to campaign against our president trying to his job & the right thing.

Delana Darrow
Delana Darrow7 years ago

It's about time we should've had troop's on the boardber along time ago .