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1,200 troops sent to Mexican border to… do what exactly?

President Obama has ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the border in the Southwest.

The New York Times reports that Obama’s decision came after Obama met with Republican senators who had demanded more troops. But Republicans were generally not placated. Senator John McCain of Arizona said it was not enough, and called for 6,000 in total, including 3,000 in Arizona.

As the Times notes, “the soldiers will not directly make arrests of border crossers and smugglers, something they are not trained to do.” In the Wall Street Journal, Rick Nelson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies called the deployment “more posturing than an effective measure.”

There really isn’t anything for the National Guard to do. To the extent that there is an issue in Arizona, it has to do with (a limited amount of) crime, not immigration. Separately, the police chiefs of major US cities told attorney general Eric Holder that the Arizona law would increase crime, not reduce it.     

The tactic of giving in to a clamor and tightening border security, as quid-pro-quo for immigration reform, was tried by George W. Bush, and didn’t work. As in many areas, Obama is following in Bush’s failed footsteps.

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