Is troop deployment a viable solution to migration flows?

Is troop deployment a viable solution to migration flows?

Troop deployment is a, partially, military solution to a problem that is highly political. It fails to address the main causes of migration from South America to the United States which are, extreme economic inequality, oppression and insecurity

In late October 2018, President Trump issued an order for 5,200 additional troops to be deployed on the US-Mexico border in anticipation of the caravan of migrants from Central-America. The deployment of troops is part of “Operation Faithfull Patriot”, which includes military police, pilots and engineers. The goal of the operation is to increase security at the borders with Mexico. However, troop deployment as part of the United States efforts to deter migration flows from Latin American is not a novel approach. During both the Obama and Bush Administration a similar number of troops was deployed to the Mexican borders, although, not during elections.

This decision comes as no surprise, considering the anti-immigrant rhetoric of President Trump and the increasingly restrictive regulations of immigration to the United States. On September 18  2018, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States is planning to reduce the number of refugees allowed into the country from 45000 in 2018 to 30.000 in 2019. However, the announcement by Mike Pompeo is inconsequential because according to data from the Migration Policy Institute, in 2018 the United States allowed roughly 22.000 refugees the lowest number since the 1980’s.

From a legal point of view, this decision is rather dubious because the military can only provide support to the forces of the Department of Homeland Security and not enforce US domestic, at least not without the authorization of Congress. Hence, troop deployment can only act as deterrent against migration flows from South American. However, from a political point of view this decision is much more troubling. The main question which arises relates to the efficacy of troop deployment as a countermeasure towards migration flows.

Troop deployment is a, partially, military solution to a problem that is highly political. It fails to address the main causes of migration from South America to the United States which are, extreme economic inequality, oppression and insecurity. Despite President Trumps rhetoric the issue of migration will not go away for the United States. Instead of adopting half measures that will have no actual impact on stemming migration flows the United States should focus on changing the existing asylum process in order to come to terms with contemporary challenges.

Even if the decision of President Trump is following the footsteps of his predecessors or, perhaps, it simply serves as a measure to increase support in the upcoming midterm election one fact is undeniable. Migration from South America to the United States has transformed, in recent years, “from young Mexican seeking economic opportunities to mixed flows of predominantly Central Americans and especially families.” They flee from violence, persecution and insecurity. This means that they have a legitimate claim to apply for asylum in the United States and pursue the status of refugee. Thus, if the President is interested in any long term solution to the “threat” of migration troop deployment is not the way to go.