Just a day before Thanksgiving, government officials and immigration advocacy groups fiercely debated the White House’s latest controversial action. In an internal memo, President Trump authorized “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary).”
Almost immediately, the mainstream media pounced on Trump, demanding an explanation for the term “lethal force.” In an effort to quell a rising controversy, Secretary of Defense James Mattis stressed the improbability of a serious border clash between American troops and the migrant caravan.
Mattis reassured reporters that the military will take a secondary role in border control and enforcement. He anticipates that they will only be used for “minute” in case of an acute emergency. Otherwise, the well-trained Border Patrol officers will take care of the more mundane tasks.
Still, the use of the phrase “lethal force” has left many openly wondering if Trump has turned excessively draconian. He has always advocated an “America First” policy, and has shown very little compassion for migrants, particularly Central Americans.
But using lethal force against unarmed civilians will represent a new low in American history. Is Trump really thinking about going this route, or is this merely “fake news?”
Lethal Force as a Last, but Critical Resort
The mainstream media has never embraced the Trump administration. Thus, we shouldn’t expect any genuine reporting on his policies, especially those centering on immigration.
For those that fear military forces opening fire against unarmed individuals, Defense Secretary Mattis had reassuring words. He adopts a minimalist interpretation of lethal force. Illegal immigrants must breach multiple layers before we even get to that severe action.
But what happens if the migrant caravan tests President Trump’s boundaries and resolve? Will his administration utilize lethal force to protect the sanctity and sovereignty of our land?
While I hate to predict such dire scenarios, the White House integrated the lethal force doctrine as a “safety valve.” Should the migrants push into the U.S. through violent means, Trump has authorized the military to respond back.
In other words, this is more about self-defense rather than a macabre massacre. The reality is that the onus for not creating problems is on the migrant caravan. Their presence and their stated intention to violate U.S. immigration laws has forced Trump’s hands. He must respond, or we might as well not have borders to begin with.
It really comes down to a question of responsibility: the migrants can avoid endangering themselves and their families through engaging proper legal channels. That they wish to bypass our laws is on them, not us.