President Donald Trump’s deputy for immigration pushed the U.S. military to plan for the deployment of troops on the Mexican border early in the coronavirus crisis, according to the New York Times.
But the aide, Stephen Miller, dropped the proposal after he helped to establish the more effective Title 42 legal barrier against migration during the epidemic.
Trump’s resulting combination of a Title 42 legal barrier and his incomplete border wall dropped migration to minimal levels in late 2020, without any need for troops on the border.
Miller told the New York Times:
With economies and health care systems faltering across the planet, our southwest border would have become the epicenter of illicit Covid fueled migration — one giant, never-ending superspreader event … Instead, the border was successfully sealed and the would-be violators and spreaders got the message and stayed home.
The New York Times presented the crisis debate as a national scandal, saying October 19:
In the spring of 2020, Mark T. Esper, the defense secretary, was alarmed to learn of an idea under discussion at a top military command and at the Department of Homeland Security to send as many as 250,000 troops — more than half the active U.S. Army, and a sixth of all American forces — to the southern border in what would have been the largest use of the military inside the United States since the Civil War.
The article denounced Trump’s potential use of a national-security agency to help solve a national security crisis:
But taken together, the ideas under discussion that spring underscore the Trump administration’s view of the armed forces as a tool of the presidency that could be wielded on behalf of Mr. Trump’s domestic political agenda in an election year.
Trump’s actions helped Americans slow the spread of the disease, giving his agencies time to develop vaccines, including one that was tested before the November election.
His border curbs on migrants also helped Americans get through the disease-caused economic turmoil — and to also raise wages, even in 2021, long after he had departed the White House.
But since January, President Joe Biden’s deputies have welcomed at least 800,000 migrants — including thousands carrying the coronavirus — across the border, as well as hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants and visa workers.