Earlier this week President Donald Trump announced he would be withdrawing troops from Syria and moving National Guard forces to protect the border, a decision that many Democrats including Rep. Ruben Gallego are against.
“I think it’s a bad use of resources,” the representative for Arizona’s District 7 says. “Illegal border crossings are at an all-time low right now. We have a border that’s most secure that most of our big cities. We have a military that’s being stretched. Taking these funds and putting them on the border does not solve the problem. It only solves one problem and that’s fulfilling the president’s ego.”
Gallego says since the president has been struggling with getting the funds necessary to build a wall, this is his next best bet. It’s how he is able to fulfill a campaign promise.
When it comes to the four main branches of the military, Gallego says the president isn’t allowed to move them to a national border. Even getting the National Guard down there is just a symbolic effort, he says. If Trump wanted to guard the entire length of the border, it would require about 40,000 guardsmen.
Securing the border with the National Guard isn’t something new. Previous administrations have declared similar actions, but it was with the intent to assist the already existing border control.
“If you need more border security, you come to Congress and we work through the civilian aspects of our government, and we fund the border patrol in that matter,” Gallego says. “It helps the president politically because he needs to answer to his very, very xenophobic base who are mad that he hasn’t done anything about the border.”
Gallego says the rules currently in place regarding immigration issues are “very strict.” Hundreds of thousands are deported yearly. The representative says if the president knew more about immigration politics and policies, we wouldn’t be having as many problems that we do.
“We need to have a cleaner immigration law that allows us to keep more people here who should be here and makes it quicker to get people out of here,” Gallego says. “The problem with that is the president doesn’t want to work with us, he doesn’t want a bipartisan compromise. Every time we’ve approached him about that he has rejected it.”
Trump has also talked about getting NAFTA involved in getting the wall built. Getting trade involved with immigration flows is something that can throw off the world balance, Gallego says.
“We need to take care of our borders,” Gallego says. “We need to pass legislation that actually does that and also at the same time deals with the many people who are here undocumented. Trying to make Mexico pay for your stupid campaign promise is not good policy, especially when right now Mexico is going through its own election.”