On Second Thought—Yes! Send the Military!
Managing the chaos along our Southern border is just too overwhelming to handle, the administration tells us. They consider those who are seeking asylum as the cause of the problem—rather than it being the government’s inability to agree on steps to manage it effectively.
So far the main strategy seems to be to find ways to discourage it by punishing those who seek asylum.
One of the more extreme solutions proposed to protect us from the growing-by-the-day horde anxious to overwhelm us/US, is to send in the US military.
That it’s most likely not constitutional to use troops that way appears to be unimportant. Meanwhile it is estimated that there are over 100,000 people seeking asylum who remain in limbo on the other side of the border that want to be on the US side. That’s way too may to process, we hear, and given the results, it appears to be ineffective to send them back home too. This will get worse as aid to fight gangs in their countries—mainly Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala—is cut off. With gangs freer to operate, more asylum seekers will arrive at our borders, seeking to escape.
Having a consistent and predictable policy would help, but we are told that processing such huge numbers is the major challenge. An online article in Mother Jones posted on April 1 stated that 50 people a day are currently being processed as asylum applicants in Tijuana, a city almost twice the population of any city on our Southern border. If no one new arrives and 500 people a day were processed, all along the border we could process everyone in 200 days instead of— Well, who knows? A thousand days might be an improvement. For asylum seekers, the process means scheduling a hearing—not resolving anything.
We seem to be stuck without adequate responses, or perhaps governing skills. So when there’s no solution, what do we do? Call in the military, right?
At first look, sending the armed forces signals failure, but it’s not, however, that troops will arrive pointing bayonets. While in an unpredictable situation led by possibly even more unpredictable administration policies, however, who really knows what could happen?
So why risk sending troops to the border at all? Because they have other skills. We live in an area that’s home to many SEALs and we know the military can be very secretive. We know enough to know we really don’t know all the military does or maybe even all the secret subdivisions of it. You may be surprised to hear that there is already a force designed to handle very similar situations that has all the skills we need right now.
Without using tanks, bayonets and even crowd control techniques we need only to send in a force from MEPS. Don’t know about them? Imagine dozens of military vehicles arriving at the border and unloading dozens of desks per truck with MEPS personnel to use them.
MEPS is short for Military Entrance Processing Station, commonly referred to as induction centers. There are 65 MEP Stations across the country and one in almost every US State.
Their job is to process and induct people into the military service—quickly and on a large scale if necessary. On the first visit to a MEPS medical conditions that need attention are identified. There is a blood and urine test that looks for HIV, and drug and alcohol abuse. Applicants are checked for diseases and vaccinated. Their background is checked to see if there is any history of law violations.
Most important, recruits are also given work aptitude tests and their work/school history is recorded. While the MEP corp system may need to adjust a bit, they know how to process and keep track of people. What would it take to process those on the border now? If a couple of manned desks process 50 people a day now and we have 65 centers, couldn’t we bring in a few more desks? More than a few?
I could probably donate a desk or two myself. Doctors without Borders might be willing to help. How long would it really take to process these people if we really wanted to? A month?
For this to work we’d have to acknowledge that immigrants are often lack the skills for well-paying jobs (but have others) and will welcome the opportunity to take jobs not many of us want to do. We’d need to recognize that we need their help. Remember last year when Maryland fisherman needed help? Growers all over the country want more farm workers. We need caregivers for both the young and the old. Young people in rural areas all over the country are leaving for the city.
Imagine if we had systems to connect those needing work with those needing workers. Imagine if we considered those along our borders as gifts: people bringing skills we need—even if their only skill is their willingness to work and make life better for their family. Are we missing how valuable that is?
For the military to identify their skills, and change this “problem” to a gift, to job fairs, we have to end the violations: the violation of caging children and separating families, and the violation of the laws—domestic and international—that we have agreed to follow. That is, recognize that it is not a crime to cross the border and ask for asylum. It’s an international right.
Many of these people arriving now are fleeing from gangs. What if one day they were fleeing the devastation of natural disasters? Fires or earthquake? What if they could help us rebuild from our disasters?
Maybe one day we will be knocking on that same Mexican border asking for assistance or asylum because hurricanes have devastated our states along the Gulf of Mexico.
It could happen. Do you think they would help us? I think so. It’s the human thing to do. The people from the South that I know and have met are good people.
Wouldn’t it be useful to recognize that this may be a future challenge potentially much bigger than processing the current logjam? Maybe it would helpful for the US to make friends with some of the countries surrounding us and work on this problem together. Improving conditions around us helps us too, right?
We should probably consider it a crime that our government doesn’t seem to know about this in-plain-sight secret force already in place that seems designed to improve this situation quickly.
They are not a perfect solution. It will take adapting what MEPS does, but human beings can adapt, remember? I don’t have the resources to come up with a more detailed plan, but the government does. They could simply stop paying a fortune to detention centers. They might even ask the troops at the 65 MEPS what they suggest. Let’s not ignore what has been successful.
Overall, though, isn’t it amazing to notice what is going on? Even with our nation’s seeming flaws, prejudice and inability to cope plainly showing, people seem to know enough about us/US—about our stated principles and beliefs—to think that this is a great place to be and bring their families. We want people like that, don’t we?