Further demonstrating what passes for a Congresswoman in South Dakota, Rep. Kristi Noem tells Fox News that she supports Texas Governor Rick Perry's plan to send National Guard troops to the U.S.–Mexico border to... hmm... to do what, again?
See we need more than a thousand border troops down there, plus they're limited to what they can do on federal lands, so we have some proposals going into house that would give us more access to that. Get more troops, and more border patrol agents down there that would really help the situation [Rep. Kristi Noem, quoted in "Noem Supports Guardsmen at Border," KBHB Radio News, 2014.07.23].
Wait: the National Guard is limited in what it can do—i.e., it cannot make arrests (and conservatives should not want the military running around he country making arrests)—so Rep. Noem wants to send even more troops to stand around and watch children swimming the Rio Grande and staggering through the scrub to escape crime and violence in their homelands?
Noem says while actions of the Texas national guard may be limited, it does send a message.
"These countries have realized that if they send their children to the United States, we'll interview them, take care of them, feed them. We'll even deploy them all across the country and re-establish them with families across the United States. 72% of these children never leave our country. They get a free pass into the United States of America, and they're doing it illegally, so these parents in Central America recognize here if they can get them here and get them through this process. They have to recognize that we have rules, and we want people to do this legally" [Noem via KBHB, 2014.07.23].
Yeah, mobilize soldiers with guns to send scared, hungry children a message. That'll fix 'em.
Actually, the National Guard mobilization Rep. Noem wants to expand won't fix anything, say local Texas officials.
The National Guard will not be making arrests and will instead observe the border and notify law enforcement of any undocumented immigrants, which doesn't make sense to many officials at the border.
“I don’t know what good they can do,” Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio told the Dallas Morning News, referring to the National Guard. “You just can’t come out here and be a police officer.”
Lucio said that hiring additional police officers at the border would make more sense.
"The National Guard is trained in warfare. They're not trained in law enforcement. This is not a war. This is people asking for help," Lucio told the Houston Chronicle [Caitlin MacNeal, "All the Border Authorities Who Think Perry's Plan Doesn't Make Sense," Talking Points Memo, 2014.07.22].
Presidents Bush and Obama have sent Guards to the border before, to no apparent avail:
Starr County Judge Eloy Vera told the Chronicle that sending the National Guard to the border didn't help in 2006 and 2010, so it won't do any good now. Vera suggested that the surge of police presence at the border isn't even helping that much.
"Those DPS people that are down here," he said. "There's one every mile, or every half a mile. And then every once in a while you'll see a cluster or three or four of them chatting. They are doing absolutely nothing" [MacNeal, 2014.07.22].
Even President Bush's National Guard chief can't figure out what good a border-troop surge will do:
“Until mission requirements are clearly defined, it can’t be determined whether this is an appropriate use of the Guard in this particular case,” H. Steven Blum, who was the Chief of the National Guard Bureau from 2003 to 2009 and has been a career military man for decades, told me. “There may be many other organizations that might more appropriately be called upon. If you’re talking about search and rescue, maintaining the rule of law or restoring conditions back to normal after a natural disaster or a catastrophe, the Guard is superbly suited to that. I’m not so sure that what we’re dealing with in scope and causation right now would make it the ideal choice” [Greg Sargent, "Sending in the National Guard Isn't the Answer," Washington Post: Plum Line, 2014.07.15].
So we have a Republican Texas Governor seeking redemption and a Republican South Dakota Congresswoman seeking more Fox News time eager to spend more money on a plan that local officials dealing directly with the immigration problem and a former Guard chief say won't do any good. Soldiers are a response rooted in fear, not compassion. Governor Perry and Congresswoman Noem favor a policy that does little but play to "un-biblical and inhumane" impulses among their constituents.
With their common commitment to posturing over problem-solving, Perry and Noem might make the perfect GOP running mates for 2016, representing everything—ineffective, inhumane, but good-looking—that the GOP wants to be.