For How Long Is Trump’s Military Border Move Going to Appease His Base?

For now, it seems that President Trump’s proclamation that he will be dispatching the National Guard to the Mexican border in order to stymie the influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico “until we can have a wall” is being met with positive reviews from his base. But, one wonders just how long that base will wait patiently to see construction of the much-ballyhooed wall, and whether the military solution will drag on longer than most currently anticipate.

Apparent inaction on immigration has been perhaps the greatest gripe of ardent Trump voters in the year-plus since Trump has taken office. While the president has gotten high marks for his moves regarding taxation and the economy, the apparent lack of progress – both legislatively and literally – on the border wall, as well as the continued existence of Obamacare, have led critics both high (looking at you, Ann Coulter) and low profile to openly question how committed Trump is to maintaining his lofty campaign promises.

“I knew he was a shallow, lazy ignoramus, and I didn’t care,” said Coulter while appearing on Lou Dobbs. “It kind of breaks my heart … He’s not giving us what he promised at every single campaign stop.”

Coulter was alluding to promises regarding Obamacare, but even more so immigration. She was not wrong in that Trump’s base expected action – swift action – in pushing the unequivocal passage of a border wall, and Mexico was going to pay for it. Up until the point in which Coulter spoke out so critically, even taking personal jabs at the President stemming from a perceived lack of action on policy promises, the extent of the border wall was eight prototypes, solitary links in a fence that would need to be under construction to put a smile on the likes of Coulter’s face.

But days after Coulter went on national TV lambasting Trump as being beholden to Goldman bankers, it appears that the president known to pay keen attention to the news may have gotten the message. On Tuesday, the president re-iterated that he remains committed to seeing a border wall built, and added that, in the meantime, he intends to dispatch the National Guard in order to stanch the influx of migrants across the Southern border. In what has become Trump fashion, he added an individual story – one of a stopped caravan of Central American migrants – in order to hammer home the point of why he was right, and why deploying military-grade force to the border is necessary.

'“Until we can have a wall and proper security we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” Trump told reporters at the White House, lamenting what he called “horrible” U.S. laws that left the southern border poorly protected.

Trump railed against a “caravan” of Central American migrants traveling from the Mexico-Guatemala border in the last 10 days toward the United States, journeys that have occurred annually since 2010 in an effort to draw attention to the plight of people fleeing violence in their countries.’ (Reuters)

There has been virtually unmitigated praise regarding this latest decision from those who have urged strong action on border security. Some level of heightened security on a border that has long been regarded as a virtual sieve is welcomed, even if it is not quite the wall that the base has been promised time and again, and again.

But, this is for now. If substantive steps toward building that wall do not follow in the near future, the natives are likely to once again grow restless. The omnibus spending bill passed under Trump was a huge source of disappointment for many conservatives and certainly libertarians who saw little to nothing positive within its 2,232 pages. That is particularly true of immigration, to which few of the newly allotted funds were allocated. While $1.6 billion in funds within the omnibus bill were allocated for “border funding”, Congress blocked most, if not all, of the measures that would have constituted pursuit of the Trump campaign agenda.

‘construction efforts along the border are limited to repairing the existing fence; building vehicle barriers (that don’t block pedestrians); constructing small portions of pedestrian fencing; and spending on unmanned aerial drones (which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has already deemed completely ineffective at border patrol). Congress also blatantly blocks using any of the $1.6 billion of border funding in the omnibus for the wall prototypes that Trump has been testing.’ (The Hill)

So, if the funds in the massive spending bill won’t even go toward prototypes, much less the fence itself, it’s fair to ask where this deployment of the National Guard is leading. Is this a temporary measure, or an interminable one, considering how ardent Congress was about blocking efforts to get the wall constructed?

Trump’s base will be appeased with the National Guard, for now. But if he doesn’t find a way to force real construction of a wall, and the military option becomes the de facto permanent option, then a popular decision will rapidly morph into one that Trump’s immigration-minded supporters come to see as weak.

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