Sending 5,200 troops to the border - up to 15,000 ultimately, says President Donald Trump - represents an escalation intended to convey a war footing. And the president’s own words reinforce this.
The approaching caravan (actually, more than one) represents an “invasion.” And without proof, the president has claimed that among the Central American migrants are “unknown Middle Easterners,” gang members and other criminals.
Got it? Armed federal troops - not just National Guard members - are needed because dangerous invaders approach. We are at war!!!
But if these migrants are armed, this has escaped notice despite extensive news coverage and scrutiny by Mexican authorities.
The travelers are mostly destitute families, with children, seeking better lives and fleeing violence in their own countries.
They are traveling together because there is strength in numbers, protection against the traditional predators arrayed against them on journeys through Mexico.
And, yes, one group of them recently stormed the Mexico-Guatemala border.
And Hondurans clashed with Mexican police. That signals the desperate straits from which they are fleeing.
And none of this warrants the largest peacetime deployment of U.S. troops at the border since Pancho Villa led a violent incursion into Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916.
The United States has an obligation to safeguard its borders.
It has the largest law enforcement entity in the federal government - the Border Patrol - to do that, already aided by the National Guard. And that’s the point. This is a law enforcement duty, not a military one.