Donald Trump’s controversial plan to send U.S. troops to the Mexican border weeks in advance of the arrival of a migrant caravan comes with a big price tag — nearly $200 million, according to the Washington Post. For the same cost, Trump’s administration would likely be able to feed every homeless U.S. veteran for a full year.
Trump’s plans to send up to 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border has been widely criticized as an unnecessary action and a political stunt. Though Trump had asked the Pentagon for the troops to serve as law enforcement officers of sorts, detaining migrants who cross the border, CNN reported that Pentagon leaders rejected the request to “provide ‘crowd and traffic control’ and safeguard Customs and Border Protection personnel,” which would have gone beyond the authority troops have under current U.S. law.
Others have rejected Trump’s insistence that the migrant caravan is filled with Middle Eastern terrorists and criminals looking to invade the United States, noting that it is made up of families seeking asylum from violence in Central American countries.
“They’re telling you the existential threat to America is a bunch of poor refugees 1,000 miles away,” Barack Obama said at a rally in Miami this week (via Defense News). “They’re even taking our brave troops away from their families for a political stunt at the border. And the men and women of our military deserve better than that.”
The report detailing the high costs of the troop deployment has drawn attention to other ways the taxpayer money could be used, including support for homeless U.S. veterans. Trump’s frequent insistence that he is in favor of troops and that opponents against them has led many to calculate how his actions could benefit those troops.
Earlier this year, when Trump announced plans for a military parade that would cost at least $10 million, Newsweek estimated that the money could instead by used to feed all of the nation’s homeless veterans for nearly two weeks. That would mean the plans to send troops to the U.S. border could instead feed these veterans for 10 months by conservative estimates and a full year by more liberal ones. It could be also put toward programs that house the homeless and offer medical and mental health services, critics say.
Trump's troop surge on the Mexican border could set a dangerous precedent | By: Josh Hersh https://t.co/GjNCC6BHz1
— SafetyPin-Daily (@SafetyPinDaily) November 3, 2018
As Forbes noted, however, estimates about feeding homeless veterans are often used to score political points against Donald Trump and miss a critical point: America already has the resources to feed and house these veterans, but chooses to use it elsewhere.