Sorry, U.S. Marines Invading Mexico Won’t End the Immigration Crisis
As if occupying Baghdad weren’t bad enough—some people want to conquer Tijuana, too
Here’s a brilliant idea for solving America’s illegal immigration problem.
Let’s invade Mexico.
No, this is not a joke, although it should be. Nor is it the brainchild of Texas governor Rick Perry, who merely wants to deploy National Guard troops along the border.
Robert Kozloski, a Navy program analyst, wants to go a step further. In a weird essay on the U.S. Naval Institute’s blog, he argues that sending U.S. troops into northern Mexico can halt illegal immigration.
Kozloski prefaces his disturbing argument with even more disturbing assumptions. He begins by suggesting that illegal immigration is more than a domestic issue. It’s a strategic threat.
In fact, he seems to believe that Mexican immigrants are a fifth column that could destroy America.
“Unlike other immigrants, Mexicans arrive here from a neighboring nation that has suffered a military defeat at the hands of the United States,” he writes, “and they settle predominantly in a region that was once part of their homeland.”
“Mexican-Americans enjoy a sense of being on their own turf that is not shared by other immigrants,” Kozloski continues. “This history certainly challenges assimilation of the migrants, potentially leading to the bifurcation of a national culture.”
This allegedly has sparked secessionist movements in U.S. states such as California, Colorado and Maryland. “In democratic republics, can this type of secession occur without bloodshed if demanded by its citizens?” Kozloski asks. “Recent events in Crimea may portend the future of state borders not supported by the populace. So something should be done.”
Having concluded that Jose and Maria sneaking across the Rio Grande will destroy the United States, Kozloski proposes sending American troops into Mexico.
Try to follow his rationale.
Kozloski believes that Mexican migration is fueled by the nation’s poverty. Improve the Mexican economy, he asserts, and migrants wouldn’t need to head across the border for work. But Mexican drug cartels are hampering the Mexican economy.
So Kozloski’s solution is to increase U.S. support for Mexico’s police and military. Normally, that would mean sending money, equipment and perhaps a few trainers and advisers. But he has a more drastic idea.
“The mountainous terrain and sparse population of northern Mexico makes it difficult to eradicate the paramilitary transnational criminal organizations that occupy the region,” Kozloski writes. “And U.N. peacekeeping forces have deployed to places less dangerous than some northern Mexican cities, such as Ciudad Juarez.”
“In contrast,” he continues, “U.S. Marines have a long history of operating in the region, dating back to the Mexican wars of the 1800s, the Banana Wars of the early 1900s, Veracruz in 1914 and operating as part of a Joint counter-drug task force in the 1990s.”
“Further, the Marines have the ability to partner with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to create a capable hybrid law enforcement-military team, similar to the Delta Force-FBI unit that reportedly captured terrorist Ahmed Abu Khattala.”
This doesn’t sound like advisers and trainers for Mexican forces. It sounds like U.S. troops conducting a kind of counterinsurgency and law-enforcement operation.
Before we send General “Black Jack” Pershing after Pancho Villa again, let’s consider a few minor drawbacks to this plan. First is the possibility that Mexicans might not welcome U.S. troops.
They might remember previous U.S. military incursions on their soil, such as America’s six-month occupation of the port of Veracruz in 1914. The return of a U.S. expeditionary force would be the equivalent of King George III sending redcoats to help George Washington put down the Whiskey Rebellion in 1791.
The drug cartels are already powerful enough to be almost a state within a state. What a gift it would be if they could portray their criminal operations as patriotic resistance against another gringo occupation.
Perhaps some naive but idealist volunteers from Central and South America, who also don’t have fond memories of U.S. interference in their nations, might come to the cartels’ aid.
Meanwhile, after more than a decade of exhausting counterinsurgency and nation-building, the U.S. military is just beginning to recuperate as it prepares for its primary task, which is fighting conventional wars. Now we send them to do … what?
Is eradicating a drug cartel a counterinsurgency operation? Or is it law enforcement, which would turn Marines into cops?
Will they eliminate drug cartels by surrounding villages and kicking down doors? Will they send suspected narcotraficantes to Guantanamo Bay? Let’s say a U.S. soldier accidentally kills a Mexican civilian. If American authorities try him, Mexicans will be furious. If a Mexican court handles the case, Fox News will go ballistic.
It’s hard to imagine the U.S. military eagerly supporting combat operations in Mexico. It’s even harder to imagine the Mexican government inviting them to do so.
Kozloski may be right that illegal immigration is a strategic issue, if one defines “strategic” so broadly that any domestically divisive issue becomes a national security threat.
But unless you really believe that El Paso is about to secede and join Mexico, then occupying yet another country is a bad idea.