Poll: Nearly half support troops along the border

A poll by Politico/Morning Consult found nearly half of Americans surveyed support sending National Guard troops to the border. Of course, there is a stark divide between Democrats and Republicans on the issue.

A plurality of 48 percent support sending troops to the border — greater than the 42 percent who oppose dispatching the National Guard. Nine percent of voters have no opinion of Trump’s order…

“President Trump’s decision to deploy National Guard troops is a hugely popular move with his base,” said Dropp. “Sixty percent of Trump voters ‘strongly’ approve of the decision. Among this same group, 49 percent ‘strongly’ approve of Trump’s job performance overall.”

The partisan split on the issue underscores this divide: Just 22 percent of Democratic voters support sending troops to the border, compared to 84 percent of Republicans. Independents are evenly divided: 44 percent support sending the National Guard to the border, and 44 percent oppose doing so.

As Jazz pointed out Monday, Border Patrol agents appear to be among those who are in support. The number of troops at the border will gradually ramp up until it reaches up to 4,000. CNN reports they are armed but are not expected to be interacting directly with illegal immigrants because they have no authority to detain or arrest anyone. Instead, the soldiers will act as a physical deterrent and provide extra sets of eyes to notify border agents of any suspicious or clearly illegal activity:

On a warm and humid afternoon, the captain showed CNN two observation posts where troops, equipped with binoculars and a long-range surveillance system, scanned the river separating the United States and Mexico after President Donald Trump ordered thousands of troops to the border to increase security.

The captain told CNN that about four minutes after the media convoy left the first observation point, soldiers noticed a raft coming across the water. The Guardsmen radioed local law enforcement, including Border Patrol, who took it from there. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the people on the raft were doing anything wrong.

But the captain said about the mission, “if they spot anything that may potentially make it across the river, it is safe to say it’s probably an illegal activity.”

I’m sure Democrats would love to shout about this being an unprecedented act but, in fact, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both sent troops to the border during their tenures. Bush sent 6,000 troops to the border in 2006. That number tailed off the following year. Obama sent 1,200 in 2010. What’s different this time is the framing. Trump is saying the troops are necessary until his wall is built. That means they could be there for a while even assuming Congress passes some substantial funding for the wall this year. Democrats have made opposition to the wall a priority for their resistance efforts even refusing a White House offer to deal with the so-called Dreamers in exchange for the funding.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to make a speech in Las Cruces, New Mexico today in support of the troops heading to the border (and those already there). The AP reports that Sessions is emphasizing a zero-tolerance approach to illegal entry:

Sessions has issued an order directing federal prosecutors to put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry, citing a “crisis” on the border.

A 37 percent increase in illegal border crossings in March brought more than 50,000 immigrants into the United States, which was triple the number of reported illegal border crossings in the same period last year. It was still far lower, however, than the surges during the last years of the Obama administration and prior decades.

The attorney general’s “zero-tolerance” for border-crossing prosecutions calls for taking action against people who are caught illegally entering the United States for the first time. In the past, such offenses have been treated as misdemeanors.

At least for now, these National Guard troops are the closest thing President Trump is going to get to his border wall. The good news for the White House is that this solution appears to be more popular than the actual wall.