Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday said he thinks President Donald Trump’s deployment of active-duty troops to deter the migrant caravan at the Mexico border is “unfortunate” and “a stunt.”
“Well, I think it’s unfortunate that we have the soldiers” at the border,” Flake told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski on “Morning Joe.” “Frankly ... you can’t call it anything but a stunt here, and it’s unfortunate that they’re going to be away from family during the holidays coming up, and we just don’t know what really for,” added Flake, a frequent Trump critic who’s retiring when his term ends in January.
Trump demonized the caravan migrants, now making their way through Mexico, as terrorists, gang members and drug dealers ahead of last week’s elections, and deployed more than 7,000 troops to halt what he called an invasion. He’s been quiet on the subject since voters handed Democrats control of the House. Reports about the caravan say many of the individuals are seeking asylum from poverty and violence in Central America.
Flake, asked by Brzezinski what he’d say to a soldier posted at the border, pointed out that no one knows where the caravan might arrive.
“I think it could be handled by civilians that we have there in terms of Border Patrol and others,” he said. “So I don’t know what I could tell them other than we shouldn’t be doing this, and this wasn’t an issue that Congress was involved in. It was an executive decision.”
Brzezinski put the same question to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who answered he’d “have to look them in the eye and say, ‘Thank you for your service, and I regret that our president is using you as a political stunt.’”
The Army troops are stationed at Base Camp Donna, located between a highway and the border wall separating Texas and Mexico, and barely have access to electricity, according to The New York Times. They’re allowed showers of no longer than seven minutes and their tents don’t have air conditioning.
Deployment orders for the troops extend until Dec. 15, meaning they’ll miss Thanksgiving with their families.