President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday, April 3, that he would order National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to secure it until a border wall is built. The announcement came after several days of reports that a massive caravan of Central Americans has been traveling up through Mexico with the goal of illegally entering the United States.
“I’ve been speaking with [Secretary of Defense] General Mattis. We’re going to be doing things militarily,” Trump said. “Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step. We really haven’t done that before, or certainly not very much before.”
Trump went on to say that his willingness to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico would depend on whether or not the country cooperates with his border security efforts. Buzzfeed, which first reported on the caravan traveling through Mexico, said that Mexican officials have not yet attempted to halt its progress toward the U.S.
“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there,” Trump tweeted on April 3. “Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!”
Although federal law prohibits the use of active-duty service members for law enforcement inside the U.S. unless approved by Congress, former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama sent National Guard troops to the border to assist with security and surveillance on two different occasions in the past 12 years.
Trump transition team policy adviser Ken Blackwell told Fox Business Network on April 3 that sending troops to the border shows that the administration sees immigration as a national and homeland security issue. Blackwell went on to say, “This nonsense that’s being perpetuated by anarchists that America should be borderless, and that the rule of law is something that can be turned on and off at will, is something that the Trump administration is going to stop.”