Human Rights First Calls for Removal of National Guard Troops from Southern Border
WASHINGTON D.C. – With yesterday’s decision by the Biden administration to withdraw most active duty troops from the U.S.-Mexico border, Human Rights First calls for the immediate removal of all active duty and National Guard troops currently deployed to the border.
“We are deeply concerned about the deployment of military units as a response to people seeking refuge, an approach that wrongly portrays them as threats requiring a militarized response,” said Chris Purdy, Director of Veterans for American Ideals at Human Rights First. “The deployments are intended to send a message that migrants and people seeking asylum are threats to the United States. Simply put, they’re not. Seeking asylum is their legal right.”
Biden’s decision contrasts with the recent deployments of National Guard troops to the border by Republican governors of Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Nebraska, as well as National Guard deployments in Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star.
“These deployments raise serious human rights and financial concerns. Now in their second year, they have already wasted at least $4.5 billion in taxpayers’ dollars and unnecessarily cost the lives of servicemembers and migrants,” said Purdy. “The situation on the Southern Border is complex; it requires comprehensive and compassionate solutions. Sending troops is for political optics; they don’t address the causes of migration or solve any humanitarian challenges faced by vulnerable individuals exercising their legal right to seek safety.”
Added Purdy, “With the withdrawal of federal troops, we urge the Biden administration to redirect resources towards meaningful solutions that address the root causes of migration and promote the safety and well-being of servicemembers and migrants.”
Human Rights First also calls on Governor Abbott and all 13 Republican governors who have pledged troops to support his Operation Lone Star efforts to focus their National Guards’ efforts on supporting humanitarian assistance that respects the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their nationality or immigration status.
The deployment of National Guard troops on the border disrupts their ability to fulfill their crucial roles in their home states. As seen in Ohio and Virginia, both of which have deployed troops to Texas, the over-extension of troop deployments has raised questions about their ability to meet the needs of their home states. The deployments are plagued with late pay, low morale, and a lack of meaningful duties for the troops involved. Moreover, troops serving on state active-duty orders are denied key benefits associated with military service, such as the GI Bill, VA home loans, and disability coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs.