Two weeks ago, active-duty soldiers at the border were detained and disarmed by a group of Mexican soldiers on the U.S. side of the border. In addition, last week, five men armed with AK-47s were caught on camera in Lukeville, Arizona, escorting an illegal alien woman through a low border barrier with full confidence that neither Border Patrol nor the military would do anything about it – other than completing their criminal smuggling conspiracy by processing and releasing the illegal immigrant. The president promised to get tougher and send “ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border.” Well, the military has now announced a surge … of lawyers and cooks.
Yes, America is not allowed to engage in military operations to repel armed invaders at our own border; the best the military can do is help Border Patrol with cooking meals and transporting illegal immigrants to further facilitate catch-and-release. Over the weekend, the L.A. Times reported that the Pentagon “is moving to loosen rules that bar U.S. soldiers from interacting with migrants on the southern border.” The government is sending 300 additional soldiers, to include “military lawyers who can help Customs and Border Protection agents process migrants, drivers to help transport detained migrants and cooks to provide meals for them.”
Undoubtedly, the move is designed to free up more border agents. But free them up to do what? Border Patrol most certainly will not go after the cartels and repel violent invaders even right at our border, per long-standing rules. Nor are agents turning back the migrants. Thus, if they are going to engage in catch-and-release anyway, what is the point of marshalling the military into that business as well? Shouldn’t the military at least be freed up to patrol the frontier against an invasion, something Border Patrol was clearly never empowered to do?
Responding to this announcement, Col. Dan Steiner, a retired Air Force veteran who coordinated military operations at our border for the Texas government, told CR that “the military attempted to answer a logistical issue for Border Patrol, but not the tactical issue of force protection” arising from the incident with the Mexican soldiers last week. “I’m not sure how sending extra lawyers, extra drivers, and extra cooks addresses the issue of preventing the next ‘confusion’ incident with Mexican soldiers or the cartels,” said Steiner. “Does it help put more Border Agents back on the line? Yes. Does it make the troops safer? No.”
Steiner, who warned on my podcast last week of a coming Arab Spring-style collapse in Mexico, noted that this is part of an overall approach to the border that is built upon processing and adjudicating mass migration rather than deterring it. “Helping to reduce the burden logistically on Border Patrol is not addressing the issue of mass migration or the cartel and smuggler incursions at our border.”
Funny enough, per the L.A. Times article, the administration is getting accused of pushing the boundaries of the Posse Comitatus Act by having the military interact with migrant processing. In reality, the military would be on more solid legal ground executing its core mission of defense against external threats rather than dealing with internal immigration laws, if it were freed up to strike out against the cartels and smugglers approaching our border. That is the quintessential use of the military.
The Posse Comitatus law was signed by President Grant in 1878 to prohibit the military from being used to enforce domestic Reconstruction-era laws against American citizens in the southern states, absent direct authorization from Congress. To repel an invasion at our border — any invasion — is actually the quintessential use of our military that our Founders had in mind. Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution tasks the federal government with guaranteeing states’ protection against invasion, and we owe it to Arizona and Texas to secure their territory. And unlike “offensive expeditions” that George Washington felt required congressional authorization for deploying troops, the use of the military to fight the drug cartels and smuggling is part of “the power to repel sudden attacks” that James Madison and Elbridge Gerry promised at the constitutional convention would be left to the executive.
Between the diseases, drugs, crime, labor, sex trafficking, and belligerent acts of rogue Mexican soldiers and dangerous cartels, why won’t this administration finally treat our border as the consummate national security issue rather than some domestic policy issue? The blueprint for stopping this is obvious, but nothing will change until the administration closes the border to immigration and begins arming our soldiers with weapons of war to combat the brutal cartels rather than with lawyers and cooks.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.