Yeah, well, the Federal government can send them, but they still cannot do the job of police -- that pesky Posse Comitatus Act doesn't allow it. It appears the United States Coast Guard is exempt, but they're not being sent in.
So what, exactly, can the Army do? Mostly good things, as it turns out, or at least neutral ones:
1. They can render humanitarian aid. This is good, since it's rather difficult to sort out refuge-seekers, plain old border sneaks and the skullduggerous if they're dying of thirst.
2. They can lend logistical support, carrying Border Patrol personnel to where they can do the most good. This also includes repairing fences and the like.
3. They can do aerial reconnaissance and similar intel work, keeping track of who's where.
These are jobs which should help defuse situations and ease worries, not escalate matters.
Presumably, if the "invasion" turns into an actual invasion, buncha dudes rushing the border waving clubs or something, then the .mil could repel them. But this seems unlikely. It's a stunt at worst, a photo-op in the run-up to the mid-term elections, a bloody shirt both big parties can wave over their own slogans and the marchers are being treated as little more than props. It is likely many of them are fleeing bad conditions at home; it is uncertain if those conditions qualify them for refugee status under UN treaties and U.S. law -- but there is a formal procedure for figuring this out, which the Border Patrol is quite familiar with and the Army troops will be told what the rules are. I expect this to fizzle out in the usual bureaucratic border morass, with the usual posturing by people with an axe to grind.
The little guys -- J. Random "It's-got-to-be-better-elsewhere" and family, J. Random low-ranking soldier and J. Random low-ranking Border Patrolman -- will end up doing all of the sweating and improvising, while nice people in nice suits have nice press conferences and photo ops in nice surroundings. If that doesn't irk you, perhaps it should. People get shoved around like pawns in a chess game way too often while the chessplayers walk away fat and happy.
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