Some Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern over President Biden’s decision to send 1,500 active-duty US troops to the US-Mexico border, saying it signals a “militarization” that is “unacceptable.”
The White House announced Tuesday that 1,500 active-duty personnel will be deployed to the border to provide administrative support and fill security gaps for up to 90 days. These troops will not be working in a law enforcement capacity, the administration said.
“The Biden administration’s militarization of the border is unacceptable,” said Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez, DN.J.
Menendez added, “There is already a humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere, and deploying military personnel only signals that migrants are a threat that require our nation’s troops to contain. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
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Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said the policy would only victimize “the innocent.”
“The right to seek asylum is a basic human right, protected under US and international law. The victims of this policy will be the innocent—people who committed no crime other than daring to seek a better life in the United States of America,” Omar wrote, without mentioning Biden.
Critics of the decision have also compared Biden’s decision to actions taken by his predecessor, former President Trump, who deployed active-duty troops to the border as migrant caravans were looming in Mexico.
While Biden frequently criticized these policies, the White House also brushed such a comparison.
“DOD personnel have been supporting CBP at the border for almost two decades now,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing Tuesday. “So this is a common practice.”
She was also asked why the president was sending the troops if the border is already secure, as he claims.
“More work can be done,” she told Fox News’ Peter Doocy.
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Biden’s decision comes as the US and Mexico jointly announced new immigration policies that intend to help both countries lessen the number of illegal border crossings.
US and Mexican officials agreed on a deal that would prevent migrants from traveling from certain South American while opening up other pathways ahead for migrants who enter the US following the end of pandemic restrictions next week.
The deal was announced after Homeland Security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall spent Tuesday meeting with Mexico President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Under the newly negotiated agreement, Mexico will accept migrants from Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba and Nicaragua and up to 100,000 individuals from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador who meet certain criteria.
The US will continue to not accept Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans who cross illegally.
Biden, who announced his re-election campaign last week, is hoping to affirm voters that he has immigration at the southern border under control and that he can be trusted with another four more years in office.
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Several Republicans, who praised Trump’s decision to send troops to the border, have criticized Biden’s decision to do the same.
“Biden says he will deploy 1,500 troops to the border — primarily to do paperwork. And only for 90 days,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted. “This does nothing to stop illegal immigration.”
He added, “I deployed up to 10,000 Texas National Guard to the border to fill the gaps created by Biden’s reckless open border policies.”
Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Penn., suggested alternative solutions instead of sending troops.
“Biden could have finished the wall. He could have enforced our nation’s laws. He could have protected our national security,” he tweeted. “But he chose to do nothing. Now, active-duty troops head to the border to clean up his mess.”
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, added: “Title 42 ends next week, and everyone knows that means a huge surge at the border. The Biden admin’s solution: Send National Guard troops to do clerical work. That’s not going to cut it. We need more enforcement and stronger policies.”
Other lawmakers found themselves at odds over the decision.
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Rep. Ben Cline, R-VA., called the decision a “moment of clarity” for Biden but said it “would not be necessary” if he just provided permanent solutions.
“The Biden admin is having a rare moment of clarity as it realizes the CHAOS that mass crossings at our southern border will create due to lifting Title 42. Sending 1,500 troops wouldn’t be necessary if Joe Biden ENFORCED our laws & SECURED the border, Cline said.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley added, “Here’s an idea: Reimpose Title 42. Close the border.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.