President Donald Trump is promising ever more extreme actions to face the threat posed by migrants at the southern border. His obsession is leaving the nation not more, but less safe.
Unable to get Congress to fund his border wall, unable to make the U.S. more terrorizing than the conditions migrants are fleeing, and unable to convince most Americans that refugees pose an existential threat to the security of the nation, the president is proposing increasingly looney solutions.
He had to back away from closing the border after it became clear how damaging such an act would be to almost every part of the economy. He has now turned to cannibalizing the Department of Homeland Security.
Customs and Border Protection (border patrol) and Citizenship and Immigration Services (ICE) are the DHS agencies directly responsible for border issues. President Trump is poised to cannibalize other parts of DHS in pursuit of his border dreams.
The Coast Guard falls under DHS. Its role is protection of America’s ports and coastlines, including those in the Arctic, where Russia and China are aggressively challenging American hegemony.
Russia has 50 icebreakers. The U.S. Coast Guard has two. One, the Polar Star, is 42 years old. The requests for new icebreakers, needed to meet mission demands, were stalled by the government shutdown over the president’s border-wall demands.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is also part of DHS. FEMA personnel worked without pay during the shutdown because of last year’s fire damage. Hurricane and fire season are just around the corner.
Now, President Trump is mulling using FEMA’s Surge Capacity Force to add staff to migrant detention centers. The administration sees it as a cost-saving move. It comes at the expense of American expectation of emergency help.
The Transportation Safety Administration lost staff due to the government shutdown. America’s ports are still woefully vulnerable to smuggling. Even CBP’s own ability to control border entry points, where more than 80 percent of border smuggling happens, is being compromised by plans to dispatch agents to who knows where along more remote sections of the border.
Trump seems to be more interested in keeping border security alive as a campaign issue than in keeping Americans secure. Otherwise, he would not be turning DHS into the Department of Homeland Insecurity.