Biden Sends Troops to Mexican Border in the Middle of Political Backlash

Deploying Troops to the Mexican Border: Biden's No-Win Political Situation
Mexican border

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Both Biden and Trump have sent troops to the Mexican border, but that is where the similarities end. While President Trump authorized active-duty troops to detain and search migrants, President Biden’s troops are only authorized to carry out administrative tasks and are not allowed to use their weapons or make arrests. The deployment of troops by the Biden administration is timed for the end of pandemic-era immigration restrictions and has put them in a no-win political situation.

The move has garnered criticism from some prominent Democrats, including Sen. Bob Menendez, who has accused the administration of perpetuating Trump-era militarization of the border and catering to the GOP’s “xenophobic attacks on our asylum system.” However, most Democratic congressional leaders have been muted in their reaction to the deployment.

Despite Biden’s shift in tone on immigration from his predecessor, he has kept some troops on the border since taking office. The troops who began arriving this week are joining 2,500 National Guardsmen who have been there since last year. The key differences between this year’s deployment and Trump’s are what the troops are allowed to do, the situation on the ground, and how Congress approaches the question.

Republicans have criticized the deployment as ineffectual window dressing, with Senator Dan Sullivan calling on the president to secure the border months ago. Trump’s use of the military at the border was part of a broader anti-immigration push that included racially-charged travel bans, deportations, and family separations. The deployments in 2018 were seen by many as politically motivated and designed to fire up the Republican base ahead of the midterm congressional elections.

Now, President Biden is responding to the expected end of Title 42, which has allowed the U.S. to deny asylum and migration claims for public health reasons. The expiration of Title 42 on Thursday will prompt an influx of Central Americans into the U.S. Officials say they would have preferred to rely on law enforcement agents for the mission, but the Department of Homeland Security is short on people and money.

Therefore, the administration is turning to what they have now, which is 1,500 active-duty troops, who officials say will be there for only 90 days until law enforcement can find contractors to do the work.

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